Coronavirus – a business survival guide

Coronavirus is here in the UK, and it’s spreading – so it’s sensible to think about how your business will cope.

Sick leave

First and foremost, it’s vital to ensure that staff who feel unwell don’t come in to work. So many people struggle in even when they have a cold, or flu. Which simply risks sharing their illness with everyone else in the business. (And the same applies if other members of their household have fallen ill.)

The symptoms of coronavirus are often mild, so people may think they just have an ordinary ‘bug’. They may even be right. But for the moment, at least, it will be far better if they stay at home. That will minimise the risk of serious infection for other, vulnerable colleagues. And if they are sufficiently well, and their work can be done remotely, consider allowing them to work from home (if they don’t already do so).

Working from home…

It may be that some of your team routinely work away from the office. If so, it may be worth encouraging them to come in only when absolutely necessary. That way you’ll reduce the risk of losing a key team player just when you need them most.

Other staff members may find working from home more challenging. So now is the time for colleagues with more experience to talk to them, work with them, and give them a clear understanding of what to do and how to do it.

Of course, it’s possible that none of your team have that experience. In which case we’d be delighted to help you set up the kind of systems and protocols we use when working with our own clients.

…and dealing with absences

All the evidence suggests the coronavirus pandemic will get worse before it gets better. Which means a substantial number of your team may well need to stay at home for two weeks or more. Some may still be able to work, if their symptoms are mild. Others will have neither the energy nor the inclination. So it’s vital to have a backup plan.

And there, again, we can help. Our experienced and highly motivated team of virtual assistants regularly fill in for staff members taking holiday or sickness leave. Working for different companies, in different sectors, they’ve built up a wealth of experience – and they’ll hit the ground running. But for the very best results it pays to be prepared. So we are ready, willing and able to learn as much about your business, and the way you run it, as you can tell us.

And then step into the breach when the time comes. Which could be the answer to a prayer…

Like to know more? We’re always happy to discuss your specific needs – so why not call us on 01638 741079? Or drop us an email?

 

 

What does a virtual assistant actually do?

When people ask us what a Purple Haze Virtual Assistant actually does, we have a standard response:

‘What would you like us to do?’

And the answer to that question is likely to depend on the nature of your business.

A startup business…

Say – just as an example – that you’re a sole trader. It’s quite likely you’ve built up your business from scratch. In which case. you’re doing everything: answering the phone, checking email, answering correspondence, managing the bookkeeping and accounts!

All of these things take time. Time you really need to spend doing the things that earn money for the business.

And all of which a Virtual Assistant could do for you.

A growing business

If you’ve moved beyond the startup phase, you may be thinking about taking on staff. But that’s a very large step. One way to make it smaller might be to take on a Virtual Assistant.

Why?

Because they can help you with one of the trickiest parts of the process: explaining to someone else, for the very first time, how to do what you do almost without thinking.

A lot of business owners hit huge problems simply because they take their processes for granted. So, imagine how useful it would be to talk to an experienced Virtual Assistant about precisely what tasks need to be done, and precisely how you are doing them.

Our team members do this kind of thing all the time. And they will certainly have very valuable suggestions, based on their wide experience, that could directly benefit your business and help future members of your team work smarter, not harder!

A mature business

In a business that’s already grown and developed, a Virtual Assistant can do a great deal to keep the wheels turning. Particularly at busy times – or when, for example, key staff members are away from work.

At Purple Haze we also offer specialist help for e-commerce businesses. Our team will deal with all the issues around fulfilment and customer relations, leaving you and your team free to do what you do best – growing the business!

Like to know more? We’re always happy to discuss your specific needs – so why not call us on 01638 741079? Or drop us an email?

Building your brand? Don’t do it on your own

Building your brand is hard work (obviously). And, to begin with at least, most of that work will be down to you. (Plus, if you’re very lucky, anyone else who’s brave enough to share your vision.)

But what happens when all that hard work finally pays off? When your brand has achieved the success you battled so hard to create for it? And when the orders start to come in faster than ever before?

That could be when even someone like Kylie Jenner – the youngest self-made internet billionaire – could use a little help…

Because an entrepreneur like her didn’t achieve success by doing everything herself. In fact, she outsources all the manufacturing, packaging and sales of her products.

And you will want to do the same…

Building your brand is a full-time job…

…but if you’re a successful entrepreneur, then that’s what you’ll be good at. Which means you won’t want to spend your day answering phone and email queries from customers, wrapping and posting packages, chasing up invoices, or checking stock levels.

Of course, you want customers. And of course, you love them. But when your product starts to fly off the shelves because a few key influencers have decided it’s the Next Big Thing, fulfilment will suddenly become your biggest issue!

It’s almost impossible to build and grow a successful business if you’re doing all the work yourself. Yet – surprisingly – it’s a mistake quite a few start-up entrepreneurs will often make, because they don’t put a realistic value on their own time.

You’re the boss. You’re the moving force behind the business. You need to focus on where it’s going – not what’s happening down in the engine room.

The good news is that you don’t have to.

How would it be if you could, quite literally, hand all that work to someone else? Secure in the knowledge they’ll do exactly what you need them to do – and do it well, right from day one?

Well, that’s what we do at Purple Haze.

So why not put down the parcel tape, step out of the stock room, and give us a bell on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

In construction – and too busy to answer the phone…?

The UK construction business is booming – which is great news if you happen to be a part of it.

In November last year, private house-building picked up by 1.9% – despite a shrinking UK economy. And the biggest growth area was in private residential work.

So if you’re a bricklayer, a plumber, a plasterer, a carpenter, a tiler, an electrician, a roofer, or a flooring specialist – you’re probably very busy.

Trouble is, your phone may be just as busy as you are.

Now that’s good news for you, because it obviously means more work coming down the pipes. But if your phone keeps ringing all the time, it can be a nuisance. Especially when you’re lying on your back underneath the pipes. Crammed into a tight space, pulling through a cable. Balancing a bucket or a hod halfway up a ladder. Or – well, you’ll have plenty of examples of your own!

And even if you can answer, do you have your diary handy to make an appointment? Can you easily check how far you’ll have to travel? And if you can’t, will you remember that phone call later on – when you’ve got a million other things to do?

A construction site is always a busy place, with deadlines to meet every step of the way. And we haven’t even mentioned the time-wasters who are just keeping you away from your well-earned tea and biscuits.

Well, the good news is you can – because we can take all those calls for you. We can weed out the time-wasters. Better yet, we can manage your diary. Check journey times. Even – if that’s what you want – sort out a provisional quote based on your specifications. How we help is up to you – but we’ll be happy to discuss exactly what you need, whenever you have a minute to spare.

Because we’d like you to have a lot more minutes to spare!

So when you’re out from under the pipes, clear of that crawl space, or safely down that ladder, why not give us a bell on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

Helping healthcare professionals (and clients) stay healthy…

If you’re working in any form of healthcare, then you know life is about to get very interesting.

Of course there’s the usual rush of winter issues (flu, bronchitis, injuries from falls, seasonal depression…) But there’s so much more to look forward to.

All the joys of Christmas preparation. (Panic. Exhaustion. Crush injuries from last-minute Christmas shopping. Unless they’re doing it all on Amazon, of course…)

All the merriment of Christmas itself. (Injuries and other trauma from the annual family row. Food poisoning. Mothers with advanced chronic fatigue syndrome. Or nervous collapse. Or repetitive strain injury from keeping small hands out of the Christmas biscuit box…)

And then there’s the New Year. All those people coming in several stones heavier than they were a month ago. And wanting your advice on their latest dieting fad. (Which – without a lot of encouragement from you – they will abandon after two weeks or less.) At least the local gym will benefit. (Dozens of new subscriptions. Few, if any, actually used…)

All of these things mean more work for you. At a time when you, too, may be hoping for some seasonal cheer. You might even need some care yourself. Which won’t, for example, include an emergency home visit to Mrs Thing’s youngest, who has pulled an interesting selection of muscles while testing the trampoline she got for Christmas. (Hopefully she’ll bounce back.)

Caring for healthcare professionals – and staff…

Let’s face it, this can be a tricky time of year for everyone. And as healthcare professionals you want to do your very best for the people who depend on your services.

So perhaps a couple of extra hands at the pumps might give you – and them – the chance for a little more seasonal cheer. And that’s where we can help.

Managing emails. Handling calls – and appointments. Doing the stuff that needn’t, and shouldn’t, be taking up your time. Especially when you need it for something more important.

Give us a call, or drop in for a chat, as soon as you can and we’ll work with you to lighten your admin load. And to ensure your callers have a helpful, proactive response right through the festive season, and beyond.

Think of it as an early New Year’s resolution…

Like to know more? Then do give us a call on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

Coping with the Christmas rush?

Given that Christmas (these days) seems to begin in July, the usual panic may not be just an end-of-year problem.  But there’s no doubt that for many businesses (including many that aren’t in the gift business) November and December can be difficult months.

Last-minute Larry’s Christmas…

These days most people are busy. (And if they’re not, they like to think they are.) Which often means that dealing with the Christmas gift list gets left to the last minute. (Or well beyond.)

Even if they were still able to shop at Woolworths, Toys ‘R’ Us or BHS, they wouldn’t be able to find what they wanted, wrap it, and post it in time to reach their family and friends. So they’ll go online to new sites like Gymshark, Shein and Wayfair. With the reassurance that these suppliers will take care of everything.

Which is perfect – for them. And slightly less perfect if you’re running an online shop that’s under sudden, massive pressure from the last-minute Larries of this world.

And that’s where a little extra help can make all the difference.

The Christmas deadline squeeze…

Your clients are – of course – taking a Christmas and New Year break. To which they are perfectly entitled. After all, they want to enjoy the festive season in peace.

But so, of course, do you.

Which is tricky when every single one of your regular deadlines is effectively squeezed into the first two weeks of the month. And people you haven’t heard from all year suddenly want something festive. Preferably the day before yesterday.

For smaller businesses in particular this is often a real and annoying problem. Because by the time you’ve got to the Festive Season, you don’t feel particularly festive. And you’re so far behind with your regular admin that you’re likely to spend Christmas Eve (and possibly Christmas Day) just catching up with yourself.

…and an answer to your prayers

How would it be if you could turn to an experienced, dedicated team who are ready, willing and able to help? (Whether you’re fighting off last-minute Larries, or feeling the pressure from that seasonal deadline squeeze…)

No problem. They’re right here.

At Purple Haze we specialise in e-commerce, and our battle-hardened team will happily take the time to understand your approach and your message before they enter the fray – taking the pressure while you deal with the core business. Read more here – or just give us a call.

And the deadline squeeze? We’ll help you cope with that one, too, so you can turn your work-till-you-drop nightmare into a rewarding festive profit. And still have time for Christmas with the family.

Interested? Like to know more? Then do give us a call on 01638 741079. Or drop us an email.

It’s flu season – so how about some emergency cover?

What’s your definition of a business emergency? (Excluding, for the moment, a meteorite strike or a plague of frogs.)

How about a flu epidemic among your staff?

We’ve all met that brave soul who arrives at work with a soaring temperature, a file-scattering sneeze, and a graveyard cough. And can only be persuaded to go home when they’ve infected half the office.

Wonderful, heroic people. But you really wish they’d stay home in bed where they belong. Because – inevitably – it won’t be long before others start to succumb.

And suddenly you’re very short-handed.

Solution? Possibly a strict rule that any staff with an infectious disease should stay at home. But that won’t help if the damage is already done. And next time you’ll still be one staff member down.

Nor will that be the only occasion when you’re looking round for people to help out. There’s summer holiday season. Christmas and Easter. Half-term. All times when even your most loyal and enthusiastic staff may, understandably, want to be somewhere else.

So how can you protect yourself? And, of course, your business?

When ’emergency’ virtual assistance can save the day

Suppose you had people ready, willing and able to step into the breach? Just a phone call away?

Better yet, people you pay for only as and when you need them? And only for as long as you need them?

You’ve just described Virtual Assistance.

Think of it as your emergency business backup. You back up your data (don’t you…?) Because that way even if the office disappears into a black hole you’ll still have all your data a mouse-click away. So why not back up your staff, too?

A good virtual assistance service does so much more than ‘answer the phone’ and look after your emails. They’ll get to know your business. Learn how you work. What software you use. And what your processes are. They can even help you streamline those processes, so it’s easier for their team to step into the breach.

And that’s exactly the service we provide at Purple Haze.

So if you’d like emergency backup for your team, why not give us a call on 01638 741079? We’ll be delighted to discuss your specific needs – and work out, with you, how and where we can help.

 

Does your clinic appointment book need some TLC?

Managing appointments for your clinic can be a trial. Especially if you’re the one trying to make sure that patients a) know when their appointment is, and b) are actually going to attend.

A friend told us the story of a clinic that seemed to have trouble getting it right. ‘I never got a reminder,’ he told us. ‘And when I did ring up to check my next appointment, they could never find my name in the book!’

As it happened he was getting excellent treatment there, so he gritted his teeth and carried on. And then, one day, everything changed.

‘It was great!’ he said. ‘I was getting email and text reminders (and yes, I had asked for both). When I needed to check or change an appointment they could find my details almost at once.’  Initially, he said, the receptionists grumbled about the new system, but within a few weeks the whole team had got to grips with it.

And there was an additional benefit. ‘I couldn’t help noticing how much busier they were, too.’

Getting rid of the frustration

An unreliable appointment system helps no one – not the patients, not the receptionists, and least of all the clinicians. Frustrated patients have every reason to be irritable and impatient when, for example, they have to wait longer than expected for their treatment.

For a smaller clinic, in particular, this can be a serious issue. And if you run your own specialist clinic it can make or break your business. So you may be relieved to know that it’s one job you can safely outsource. (Which could save you the cost and hassle of hiring a receptionist – unless and until you actually need one.)

There’s a wide choice of appointment and booking systems which you can simply add to your website. They’ll ensure that your patients get confirmation of their booking. Reminders before they’re due to come in. (Via text, email, or even automated phone calls.) And a simple way to check the date and time when they’ve forgotten it.

Of course, patients may still need to change or cancel an appointment – and that’s where a human being can be rather useful…

Why not let our clinic help yours?

For a small or one-person business, phone calls from anxious patients are tricky to cope with. If you’re actively working with another patient you won’t be able to answer them. If you’re not, they can be distracting. So it makes sense to use a virtual assistant to help. They can take any calls to do with appointments and deal with them. (You simply give them access to your online diary.) If it’s a question about treatment they can take a note of it and send it on to you – so you can answer as soon as you have time to do so.

So if your appointment system is giving you a headache, come to our clinic. We’ll be sure to prescribe the treatment you need.

Give us a call on 01638 741079 and we’ll be happy to discuss your exact requirements.

And if all you need is some good software, we’ll be delighted to recommend the program that will suit you best. Doesn’t that feel better already?

How good is your customer experience?

The customer experience is what makes or breaks an e-commerce website – and that doesn’t just depend on the quality of your software. Because even with the very best software, things can go wrong…

I’m not sure what to do…?

Try as you might, some of your potential customers won’t be able to cope with the technology. They’re the ones who need to talk to a human being. They may want more information about your product or service. They may be chasing up an order they’ve already made. Or they may need a little help to place an order – in which case their feedback could help prevent similar issues in future.

Have you still got…?

Even if your site, like Amazon, can show the remaining stock level for each item, customers may worry that the information isn’t up to date. That you’ve run out, in fact. Which is why you need people who can check the actual stock level, process the customer’s order, and make sure they get exactly what they asked for.

Or get back to them if that’s not possible…

It isn’t what I ordered!

Mistakes happen – and when they do, customers would rather talk to a human being. If they don’t they will tend to vent their frustrations online, which is bad for business. Of course, you can minimise this kind of problem if your support team check that your fulfilment centre is picking and packing the right items in the first place – and sending them with the right courier…

I haven’t had it!

If, despite your best efforts, the customer’s order fails to arrive, they will almost certainly want to talk to a real person. (However good your website is…)

It’s broken!

If an order doesn’t arrive, that’s annoying. If it arrives, and it’s damaged, that’s even more annoying. It means, after all, that the customer has to return it, and then wait (again) for a replacement. A good support team can ensure that the annoyance doesn’t appear in block capitals on your social media feed – and that the customer is happy with the solution. Experience shows that dealing sensibly with a complaint can turn a disgruntled customer into an advocate.

When will I get the replacement?

Of course, that will only happen if (and when) the insurance claim and the redelivery are sorted. And again, that’s the job of a good support team.

All good reasons to use our team!

Our customer support specialists are ready and waiting to provide a human face (and voice) for your e-commerce business. They’ll also ensure that everything runs smoothly behind the scenes. At every stage of the process from initial order to fulfilment. We’ll take the burden off your shoulders. Which will leave you free to concentrate on growing your business.

Secure in the knowledge that everything else is in safe, experienced hands.

Like to know more? Then why not give us a call on 01638 741079?

 

 

Time to take a proper holiday?

Remember what a holiday used to be like?

For some that might mean going back rather a long way, to carefree childhood days. When things like money and work were things that grown-ups talked about – while you got on with something more interesting.

But if you’re running your own business, that really isn’t an option…

So – how could you recapture those carefree days? How could you be sure of having a proper holiday? With time for your partner? For your family? And for the things you’d really like to do – if only you had the time?

And how can you avoid the feeling that you’re linked, by invisible chains, to your smartphone? At all times?

Well, believe it or not, it’s possible. Because that’s exactly what we can offer you right here at Purple Haze.

In fact, we can do better than that – given half a chance, of course…

Say goodbye to the ‘working holiday’

For starters, you need to add one item to your list of holiday preparations – and that’s a chat with us. We’ll need that to be sure we can deliver the quality service your business needs while you’re away.

And you needn’t worry about ‘losing control’, because our job is to give you back your time – without losing touch with the things that matter.

So we’ll answer all those calls that used to come in when you were in the swimming pool. We’ll check all those emails waterfalling into your inbox – and pick out the ones that need an urgent response. And we’ll give you the information you need at a time that suits you. Especially if you’re taking that holiday in a different time zone.

Which means you can decide when and where you catch up with the day. Ideally over the drink of your choice, in a quiet and relaxing environment.

Need to make a call? Then we’ll make sure you can reach your contact at a sensible time (for you) so you don’t miss a minute of quality time.

And it doesn’t stop there…

Travel arrangements are part of our service. Need transport to the airport – or from the airport to your hotel? We can arrange it. Want a hire car? We can arrange that too. And – if you want – we can even book your flights and your hotel.

So if you’re already thinking about a holiday, why not give us a call on 01638 741079? Right now…!