Customer Service

I worked for a company for a number of years where providing a quality customer service was part of my job. I am now finding in South Africa, that no matter where you go customer service is dying. Some people are not interested in assisting customers at all, even if it is part of their jobs. It is far more important to stand and chat or to wander around, but helping customers, no way. No the wonder business is going downhill. I have always provided a Quality Customer Service and will continue to do so, but it is very disheartening to see that people just do not care enough about their jobs to provide a service to their customers. It is very sad to see here in our country.

People do not realise that providing a good service is what drives customers to a company. If I receive a bad service, I will never use your company again, why should I, it is my choice to accept a bad service or to be positive and take my business elsewhere. Today, we do not have to put up with bad service from anyone. If a person is having a bad day, that is not the customer’s fault. People should not take their problems to work or take their work problems home, both are separate issues.

When you work in the service industry it is part of your job to provide a quality service to those you serve.

Characteristics of Good Customer Service

Customer service is the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements are met. Customer service is meeting the needs and desires of any customer.

Some characteristics of good customer service include:

  • Promptness: Promises for delivery of products must be on time. Delays and cancellations of products should be avoided.
  • Politeness: Politeness is almost a lost art. Saying ‘hello,’ ‘good afternoon,’ ‘sir,’ and ‘thank you very much’ are a part of good customer service. For any business, using good manners is appropriate whether the customer makes a purchase or not.
  • Professionalism: All customers should be treated professionally, which means the use of competence or skill expected of the professional. Professionalism shows the customer they’re cared for.
  • Personalisation: Using the customer’s name is very effective in producing loyalty. Customers like the idea that whom they do business with knows them on a personal level.

Source: http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-customer-service-definition-types-role-in-marketing.html

Next time you deal with customers make sure you provide them with a Quality Customer Service Experience.

Happy customers will come back time and again.

 

 

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WhatsApp Communication

Communication with Clients and Sub-Contractors is so important and today, it is made easier by social media technology. Most people have access to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, WhatsApp etc, so there should be no reason to not keep in contact with people who we work with or for. Most people today have a Cellphone that can be used to keep in contact. If you can stay in contact with family and friends then you can stay in contact with the people you work with. It takes but a few minute to send a WhatsApp message.

Here are some WhatsApp Stats for interest:

Source: http://www.wapp4phone.com/facts/popular-whatsapp-world/

Percentage of WhatsApp users by country:

  • South Africa – 78%
  • Malaysia – 75%
  • Argentina – 74%
  • Singapore – 72%
  • Hong Kong – 71%
  • Spain – 70%
  • India – 69%
  • Mexico – 67%
  • Italy – 62%
  • The Netherlands – 61%
  • Germany – 57%
  • Brazil – 56%
  • Saudi Arabia – 56%
  • Indonesia – 52%
  • Turkey – 49%

Source: http://www.wapp4phone.com/facts/popular-whatsapp-world/

With WhatsApp we can quickly send messages to our clients and vice versa, if we have problems we can let our clients know just straight away. With the use of camera’s now in Cellphones I find is a great help, My clients can quickly send through pieces of text they want to add to their documents or photographs, graphics etc that they need me to add to their content via WhatsApp.

 

Another great tool with WhatsApp is groups. I am the Chairlady of our Complex where we live and we use our WhatsApp group to let everyone know what is happening, nobody can complain they do not know what is going on, as things happen within the complex we immediately put information onto our group to keep everyone posted. Having a WhatsApp family group is a great way to stay in contact with your family at a moments notice.

WhatsApp is one of the greatest forms of communication today in our social media world. There should be no excuse today for not keeping in contact with people. We have communication technology at our fingertips.

 

Written 21 November 2017 by Alison Fourie

 

This page contains affiliate links

 

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Pontins

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Fred Pontin created Pontins in 1946. Pontins is the perfect place to take your family for a fun filled holiday, there is plenty of entertainment on offer for families.

In popular culture

The 1973 British film Holiday on the Buses was filmed at and set in the Prestatyn resort. A plaque was erected in 2004 at the main entrance gates (unchanged since the film) to note this event.[8] The same venue hosts professional snooker each year. Prestatyn Sands also hosts the finals for the annual Brass Band Festival[9] historically, the qualifying rounds were held in other Pontins centres.

The previous On The Buses film, Mutiny on the Buses (1972), depicted buses carrying adverts with the slogan “Go Pontinental”, implying that Hammer Film Productions had already established a working relationship with Pontins with a view to shooting a future film at one of their resorts.

Carol Lee Scott (known as “Grotbags“) performed cabaret throughout different Pontins sites in the 1960s and 70s.

 

Pontins has 6 Holiday Parks in the UK:

  • Camber Sands (Sussex)
  • Brean Sands (Somerset)
  • Prestatyn Sands (Wales)
  • Southport (Merseyside)
  • Pakefield (Lowestoft)
  • Sandbay (Somerset)

Pontins offers Autumn family breaks, October half-term breaks and 2017, 2018 holiday breaks.



Meet the famous Blue Coats who offer a friendly smile and are always there to assist holiday makers.

Bluecoats are guest hosts and include some well-known entertainers. Past Bluecoats include TV personalities Brian Conley, Shane Richie, Helen Chamberlain, Bobby Davro, Lee Carroll, Mark Fez Harrison of ” Magicians in love ” Scott Bruton (X Factor finalist), and Bradley Walsh. Other personalities include dancer Lisa Scott-Lee, stand-up comedian Lee Mack, Choreographer Gemma Quinnell and opera singer Nyle Wolfe.

Pontins has Disabled facilities

 

Plenty of activities for the kids to do: Swimming, Amusements, Captain Croc’s Adventureland, Pontins Character Breakfast, Outdoor Inflatable Course, Outdoor Skate Park, Fun Bikes, Crazy Golf, (everyone loves a game of crazy golf), Game Zone, Trampolines, Go Karts, Snooker, Darts and of course Pontins Bingo. Kids can join the Exclusive Kids Croc Club.

    

 

 

 

Pontins has the best entertainment, fun activities, delicious food and seaside air you are bound to find the perfect UK family holiday, to have loads of family fun.

Mascots

There are some mascots here at Pontins. The first one was Captain Crocodile , the leader of the gang. The others were Florence the ostrich , Action-Pack jack human , Zena the Zebra, Chuckles the Monkey, Megamix Mick and Safari Sam humans . In 2014, Action-Pack Jack and Megamix Mick was disposed of, and from now the gang was renamed the Croc Crew.

 

 

#Pontins #Bluecoats #Bluecoat #CaptainCroc #festive #entertainment #Entertainment #Party #Karaoke #Breaks #Twixmas #NewYear #Restaurant #Seaside #beach #Beach #Apartment #HolidayPark #Accommodation #Bungalows #Holiday #midweekbreak #booking #Bookings #ValueforMoney  #Self-catering #DisabledFacilities #Disabled #Guests #families #Family #Guest

 

 

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Typing Services

What is involved with offering Typing as a service?

Can anyone type, yes but can everyone offer typing as a service? Typing can be more than just copy typing. Typing can involve creating spreadsheets, equations, figures, graphs, charts etc or even creating graphics. So you need to ask your prospective client what is involved with the typing before quoting.

  • Is the typing just plain copy typing, what you see is what you type, is there any tables, graphs, charts as they must then be created, you might have to create a graph or chart in excel and copy it across to word, that is time taking and is not straight copy typing, as you must create the graph etc. Sometimes you might have to scan an image from an book, so that means you need to scan it on a scanner and then resize to insert it into your document, so that is not straight copy typing. You might need to find an image on the Internet, so that will involve research, finding the image. You might have to create a graphic, the client might have drawn an image, maybe a flow diagram, you will need to recreate this in the document this can also involve using graphic software then copy and insert within your document, and also this is very time consuming.
  • A client might send you to copy a PDF document for typing. Not all PDF conversion software works nicely when you convert a PDF document into word. You might find you still have to reformat the document this is time taking and often much quicker to just type the document from scratch. Note here the client will know the document is not typed from scratch, they will know you have used conversion software to convert the document and often this is not the quickest route to take.
  • You might need to firstly print out what the client has sent you so that you can type from it, it takes time to print out a document, and it costs to print from a printer.
  • At the end of your document you need to proofread and perform a spell check, this should be part of your quote or terms and condition; this task must always be done. Make sure you list this so that clients can see that you perform this task.
  • Sometimes clients might want their document saved to a memory stick (flash drive) you need to charge for this as it is time taking and you maybe you need to a buy the memory stick.
  • If you offer typing as a service make sure you state that you can create graphs, tables, charts, brochures, graphics, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations. Do not assume all typing is simple copy typing, often it is more involved.
  • You may need to insert equations, this takes extra time to do this, so make sure you feature this time into the length of time it will takes you to complete the typing.
  • You can no longer send large files through email and often you have to make use of Google docs, Dropbox, Send this File etc so make sure that your Internet bundle (capped or uncapped) can cope with offering typing. Files will need to be downloaded and uploaded. A file with graphics, graphs etc will take time to load and is very time consuming loading to Send this File or Dropbox etc, especially if it has more than 20 pages. A large manual with graphics, graphs and flows, a large spreadsheet, a PowerPoint presentation can take a few hours to upload, you have to remember this when it comes to your deadline and getting the work back to the client in time.
  • If you contract typing out to a subcontractor make sure you check the work thoroughly and ask the subcontractor to make sure they proof their own work then you double proof the work when you get it back. Often a subcontractor will just do the work and send it back to you and tell you it is proofed, don’t make the mistake of sending it to the client without you doing a proofread and spell check. You are the one the work is sent to from your client and not the subcontractor so it is up to you to make sure you send back a quality document.
  • When offering typing services sometimes you will get in tasks that you don’t like doing, maybe lots of figure typing, typing of tables, this can be boring for some, listen to music as you type, this will help the time go a bit quicker.
  • When pricing typing the norm is to charge on a per page basis but it can also be done on an hourly rate, whichever works out best for you, is what you offer.
  • Authors and students may ask you for a charge per word, roughly you normally get ±750/1000 words to an A4 page at Ariel at a size 12 font.
  • If you have a table within the document, check out the other tables within the document, maybe you can just copy and paste your first one and just change the data, this can save you time.
  • Know how many pages you can do in an hour, day, or week so that you can let the client know if you can reach their deadline, remember if you have graphics, graphs, charts etc within a document it might take you longer to create these so therefore affecting the time it takes to complete your document.
  • Ask for client preferences: fonts, size of text, colour in graphs, flow diagrams, spacing, justification, ask if the client can provide you with the company logo’s/graphics, templates if required. etc.
  • Do not take on typing work if you do not know how to do it, you can subcontract it out, if that is the case make sure your subcontract has the experience to do the job.

 

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Have you been virtually butt kicking yet?

By Dee
Matheson

Just last week I was feeling sorry for myself
because my Virtual Assistant business had come to a grinding halt. My ever
understanding husband said that these things happen and I must not be so hard
on myself. All I could think of was ‘thank goodness he still believes in me’.

As per usual my marketing coach, Francis van
Wyk, was scheduled for our marketing mentor session and I was not looking
forward to it because I was feeling down in the dumps and I had not done
everything on the list that I was supposed to do. Well lo and behold, she
kicked my butt virtually (via Skype) and told me to do something that we are
all so scared of: Be Proactive. It’s not rocket science but boy does it work.

As I had already identified my target market, I
started looking for contact details and information and composed my email
marketing letter. I was rather sceptical about sending  it out because I was wondering whether they
would even bother reading it, put it in the trash or send me rude emails back
because I was wasting their precious time. Well that did not happen. No hit
squad came to my virtual door and told me off. Instead the feedback has been
phenomenal. There are so many people out there just waiting for someone to help
them further their business goals but don’t know how to get into connect with
them. By just using this very simple initiative it has opened up doors that I
did not know were even there. Those that were not quite ready for my services
at this moment agreed to regular informative emails from me which means I’m
developing a database of potential clients. Exactly what Francis encourages:
build up a funnel system so that when one client moves on, you’ve got others
waiting in line.

This week I signed up two new clients and I’m
in the process of signing up my third which came from my website and not even
from my marketing email campaign. When I spoke to these new clients and those potential
clients, I asked them what made them want to connect with me and they all said,
Your pro-activeness, because if you do
that for your business, imagine what you can do for mine
?”

Once
again this just shows that putting those positive vibes out there into the
universe, and I’m not an airy fairy type of person, and stop wishing for things
to happen when you don’t even try yourself only bodes disappointment and
eventually failure. That is such a pity because we all have skills, knowledge
and know how that someone else does not have and needs.

I hope that this has inspired some of you to
become more proactive and get out there and kick butt or at least try. Don’t
give up. All that hard work you’ve already put in should not go to waste.

If you would like more information or connect
with me, you can reach me via email on dmatheson@worldonline.co.za or visit my website: www.dfm-virtualassistant.co.za

The bottom line, how do I work successfully with a Virtual Assistant and save money?

The bottom line, how do i work successfully with a VA and save money

By Dee Matheson

Now at long last the decision has been made and you’ve found a Virtual Assistant to help you with all those tasks that you’ve had sleepless nights over but does this whole thing actually work? How are you going to save money?

Well think of it like this, what would you do if you hired an on-site employee? How would you start with them and what would you be paying them? Chances are you have a task list a mile long and you need someone to help you immediately and if you are looking for an experienced on-site person, you will very likely have to wait for them because they have a resignation period, you will have to pay an employment agency a percentage of that person’s annual salary and then there are all the overheads, such as medical aid, pension fund and office equipment, to name but a few. Just on this alone, a Virtual Assistant can save you a small fortune because she has already got all the office equipment in place and you don’t have to pay her for any additional overheads and she is very likely available  immediately. These are the basics and one thing to remember when working with a Virtual Assistant, she also runs a business and that both of you should treat each other as equals striving for the same goal, to be successful. All this is quite understandable but now how do you work with a Virtual Assistant? Here are some ideas that might help:

·    What is your budget for a Virtual Assistant? Determine how much time you can afford your Virtual Assistant for, keep in mind that a Virtual Assistant can get a lot more accomplished in an hour’s time than an on-site employee, however, do be realistic and don’t expect the impossible.

 

·    Now that you have an idea on how much time you need your Virtual Assistant for, make a list of tasks you need completed in order of importance and allocate a realistic time to these tasks.

 

·    It is vital that you build a good relationship with your Virtual Assistant, she knows that you’re not made out of money, so be clear on what needs to be done and by when so that no time nor money is wasted.  Discuss all the main priorities with her so that she can understand what’s important to you and let her advise you on estimated time as she will very likely know best how long some tasks may take.  For example, if you need your Virtual Assistant to transcribe an interview or discussion, take into account how many people are talking, is there background noise which makes it hard to hear and are there any accents involved. All of this does take time and should be discussed and taken into account.

 

·     As a Virtual Assistant myself, I find it’s vital to keep my client’s updated all the time. Make arrangements with your Virtual Assistant to give you feedback on tasks as frequently as you would like to be briefed. Not only will you know how the tasks are progressing but you will see if there are any issues that need to be dealt with immediately or any room for improvement.

 

·    Once you have worked with your Virtual Assistant for a short period you will get a feel for how best to work together. So as time goes on, keep adding to your list of tasks and in no time at all your business will be running smoother and more efficiently than ever before.

 

·     As your Virtual Assistant is a business owner too, ask for her opinion on a topic or area you are looking for feedback on. Chances are that she will have some valuable information for you and if she does not, she might know someone who does. Virtual Assistants work with lots of other business owners in various industries giving them a wealth of information through their connections and at their fingertips, but remember the confidentiality clause. She might not always be able to give you direct links but can advise you on the way forward, tap into this resource, it’s waiting to help you.

 

·    As a business owner, the hardest thing for you will be to delegate tasks to someone you don’t know, that’s why it’s important to have a trial period with your Virtual Assistant to see if  you can work together and become a team.  I always work with my clients for a 2 month trial period at a fixed rate and negotiate a longer period on a retainer basis once the relationship has been established. It’s the same as employing someone on-site, they also have a trial period before they become permanent staff.
If you need help and are not sure what direction to go in, call me, Dee Matheson on +27 82 925 7757 or email me on dmatheson@worldonline.co.za , no obligation. I’m looking forward to helping you go to the next level with your business.

 

 

 

Tips

Here are some tips on how to be a Virtual Assistant/Business Owner:
 
Act professionally at all times
 
Have the determination to succeed.
Provide a Quality service to your clients at all times.
 
Speak to your clients on the same level; you are a business owner, not a PA speaking to a Boss. Be on the same level as your client’s; do not address them as Mr Jones etc address them as Peter etc. Use first names. This immediately brings you on the same level. If you address that client as Mr Jones, this is immediately putting the client on a level higher than you; they will assume that role and treat you as a PA/Secretary which you are not.
 
If you feel you can give the client good advice and ideas on the tasks they assign you, do so, there is no harm in doing this. Show the client you know what you are doing; you know what you are talking about. Be confident and assertive in your approach to your clients.
 
When you feel a deadline is not reachable, negotiate, you will be doing the work, you know how long it will take, give yourself plenty of time to do the work and be negotiable on a deadline that you can reach. It is up to you as a business owner to tell you client ‘this deadline is unreal’ explain what is involved within the job, a lot of clients have no idea how long a particular job will take. They will give you very unreasonable deadlines. Only you know what you are capable of and you know your limits. This is often a problem in Transcription, the clients do not know how long it actually takes to transcribe and often the deadlines are tight but its up to you, as you are doing the job to negotiate this with the client, not the client to set this deadline for you, simply explain what is involved.
 
Do not take on jobs you have no idea how to do, a client will quickly find out you can not do this job and they will not have confidence and trust in you again. Only take on the work that you have experience in doing, especially so when you are just starting out. If you take on a job that is new to you, let the client know it’s new to you, but that you are very willing to learn and try.
 
State your business hours, state if you want to be contacted after hours or weekends, have this visible on your website, in your brochure, part of your terms and conditions. If you do not do so, clients will and do take advantage and contact you out of hours; clients will expect the impossible from you. Be in charge; be in control of your business.
 
Have your prices/rates already set before you open your business. When a client contacts you, you need to be able to get back to them quickly with a quotation. Know how much you are going to charge for each service you are going to offer. You set the price, you can be negotiable if need be, but You, not the client sets the overall price of the job, after all you are a business owner.
 
It is not easy running a VA business but if you schedule your day and especially if you have small children things will be easier for you. This is an example of what I do, I start work around 7am when the kids/hubby leaves for school/work, I then work till around 1.30pm, have lunch, then its time for the kids to come home, I assist with homework, lunch for them and then return to work around 2:30/3pm and work till around 6pm. I will come back to work after the kids go to bed if I have urgent work. I work the hours I have to work, to get my work done. If you have a husband, get his support in helping with the children while you work.
 
Keeps logs of what you are doing, always know what work/tasks you have in at any one time, this is helpful when you need to priorities. Know how to prioritise your work. Know how long it will take you to complete tasks. I know I can type 20 to 30 pages of typing a day, but if that typing has in graphs, flow diagrams, then it will be less and I make sure my clients know this. Your clients must know what you are capable of so that they can judge when giving you work.
If you want to be a Virtual Assistant, most Vas are Business Owners around the world, take on this role. A lot of VA’s in South Africa are saying they are freelance contractors or independent contractors why I don’t know, if you are a VA and running a business, doing the work, doing your bookkeeping, marketing and networking etc, then surely that is running a business, not being an independent contractor, there is a difference as there is a difference between PA and VA, if you are working from a virtual location, running a business you are not a PA. A PA is someone who is employed and as far as I am aware a VA is not employed.  Know these differences before you open your business so that you do portray yourself as a business owner and your clients will pick up on this and treat you accordingly.
 
If you can use free software to do your job, there is no harm in doing this; Open Office is compatible with Microsoft Office.
 
Make sure you have good virus protection on your pc.
 
As a VA you need to keep regular backups of your work and keep each clients work separate in different folders so that the work is easy to find when required.

 Feel free to
comment on any of these tips above, I am quite happy to discuss any issues
further, if you need me to.

Written by Alison
Fourie, AMF Typing Services cc, ©
Copyright 2001 Ck2001/083866/23.  All rights reserved.

How will you manage your business whilst on holiday

 How will you manage your business whilst on holiday?

 By Dee Matheson

 It’s that wonderful time of year again here in South Africa, winter has started, it’s cold in the morning and evening but during the day the weather on the Highveld is fantastic, blue skies and lots of sunshine. What more can you ask for? The kids are getting excited about the July holidays and all your plans are made for that vacation you’ve been saving so hard for.

Now here’s the dilemma, what to do with your business while on that well deserved holiday? You can’t close the doors, you
need the money and you also don’t want to let your clients down.  It’s only human to stress about this when you are supposed to have a relaxing time with your family. Some business owners have very understanding clients and communicate with them regularly and have
created a good relationship when it comes to taking leave but what if you’re not that lucky and don’t have the backup support to allow you to take time off? Or do you make the fatal mistake of either not taking a holiday at all and disappointing the family or trying to work whilst away?

Here are some tips to help you enjoy your holiday this year:

·    Take care of the majority of work before you go away. Make sure whatever can be completed prior to departure is done and dusted and let your clients know that all the tasks or jobs taken aboard have been completed. Plan ahead and get help if you need it to get the job done.

 

·    Communicate with your regular clients or customers and let them know that you’ll be on leave and when you’ll be back. Don’t leave them in the dark because it’s Murphy’s law that when you’re not available, that’s when they want you the most.

 

·    Have a support system in place and if you don’t know of anyone, get yourself a Virtual Assistant to ‘run’ your business whilst you’re away. Let her have all the necessary emails, contact information and current work that’s not been finalised yet. She can be your go-to person and handle things for you and also liaise with clients on your behalf so that they don’t feel stranded. Currently I’m doing this for an influential client who is overseas and it’s working like a charm. My client still feels in control of her business even though she is
not in this country.

 

·     Be available for any emergencies. Again, this is where your Virtual Assistant comes to the fore and she will be able to assess if there is any need to contact you.  She will very likely be quite capable of handling the situation herself and only contact you if the
situation absolutely warrants it.  If you still feel it’s necessary while you’re away, set a time to speak to your Virtual Assistant and run through any important issues and the outcome thereof. She will be your right-hand person and has your business interest at heart. Remember, if your clients are kept satisfied, she will be happy too because she knows she will get paid and is pleasing her client, that is you, at the same time. There is no better reassurance than having a satisfied client and a job well done for both parties.

 

·    And the last but not least point, RELAX and enjoy the time that you’re away. You have now done everything in your power
to make sure that all your ducks are in a row. You deserve that much needed break!

If you need support and are looking for that perfect back up Virtual Assistant, contact Dee Matheson on dmatheson@worldonline.co.za or look at my website on www.dfm-virtualassistant.co.za

 

 

How will you manage your business whilst on holiday?

How will you manage your business whilst on holiday?

By Dee
Matheson

http://www.rentinnerja.com/images/rentin_laptop.jpgIt’s that wonderful time of year again here in South Africa, winter has
started, it’s cold in the morning and evening but during the day the weather on
the Highveld is fantastic, blue skies and lots of sunshine. What more can you
ask for? The kids are getting excited about the July holidays and all your
plans are made for that vacation you’ve been saving so hard for. 

Now here’s the dilemma, what to do with your
business while on that well deserved holiday? You can’t close the doors, you
need the money and you also don’t want to let your clients down.  It’s only human to stress about this when you
are supposed to have a relaxing time with your family. Some business owners
have very understanding clients and communicate with them regularly and have
created a good relationship when it comes to taking leave but what if you’re
not that lucky and don’t have the backup support to allow you to take time off?
Or do you make the fatal mistake of either not taking a holiday at all and
disappointing the family or trying to work whilst away?

Here are some tips to help you enjoy your
holiday this year:

·        
Take
care of the majority of work before you go away. Make sure whatever can be
completed prior to departure is done and dusted and let your clients know that
all the tasks or jobs taken aboard have been completed. Plan ahead and get help
if you need it to get the job done.

 

·        
Communicate
with your regular clients or customers and let them know that you’ll be on
leave and when you’ll be back. Don’t leave them in the dark because it’s
Murphy’s law that when you’re not available, that’s when they want you the
most.

 

·        
Have
a support system in place and if you don’t know of anyone, get yourself a
Virtual Assistant to ‘run’ your business whilst you’re away. Let her have all
the necessary emails, contact information and current work that’s not been
finalised yet. She can be your go-to person and handle things for you and also
liaise with clients on your behalf so that they don’t feel stranded. Currently
I’m doing this for an influential client who is overseas and it’s working like
a charm. My client still feels in control of her business even though she is
not in this country.

 

·        
Be
available for any emergencies. Again, this is where your Virtual Assistant
comes to the fore and she will be able to assess if there is any need to
contact you.  She will very likely be
quite capable of handling the situation herself and only contact you if the
situation absolutely warrants it.  If you
still feel it’s necessary while you’re away, set a time to speak to your
Virtual Assistant and run through any important issues and the outcome thereof.
She will be your right-hand person and has your business interest at heart.
Remember, if your clients are kept satisfied, she will be happy too because she
knows she will get paid and is pleasing her client, that is you, at the same
time. There is no better reassurance than having a satisfied client and a job well
done for both parties.

 

·        
And
the last but not least point, RELAX
and enjoy the time that you’re away. You have now done everything in your power
to make sure that all your ducks are in a row. You deserve that much needed
break!

If you need support and are looking for that
perfect back up Virtual Assistant, contact Dee Matheson on dmatheson@worldonline.co.za or look at my website on www.dfm-virtualassistant.co.za

 

Social Media

Years ago when VAs started out working from home they used to advertise office administration, typing and transcription as their services, today there is many more services you can offer clients. One of these services is Social Media. It is important for every business no matter how big or small to be part of social media. Cell Phones, Tablets and IPads are all centred around Social Media, being part of it is part of doing business in the world today.

You have had to set up your own business and have to include Social Media in as part of your networking and marketing so why not offer this service to potential clients, especially to new businesses/entrepreneurs etc. You have learnt enough through doing this for your business to have the experience in it to offer it as a service.
You can offer it on a package basis or on an hourly rate. You can offer social media, or offer it in separate services like Twitter or Facebook etc. You can log into your clients twitter account on a daily basis or every other day and set up tweets ahead of time, interact on behalf of your client with like minded businesses on twitter, the same with Facebook, Linked In etc. You could offer a package for social medial including all 3 the most popular social media platforms which are Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.

Today a lot of company’s/businesses networking is done by joining groups within Facebook, Linked In etc. Being part of forums online. You network and interact with people and build up friendships and relationships. Networking is not about selling your project, its about building relationships with like minded people in the same business as you and maybe business can come from this.
It is a great service to offer clients as its a much in demand service today. People cannot do business today without belonging somehow to social media. Its the quickest, fastest way to get your information out today, instantly.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD TRANSCRIPTIONIST

There are many reasons why it seems a great idea to set up as a transcriber – be it for health, personal or financial reasons – but it is not like driving a car. What you get out of this business is directly concomitant with what you can put it.

The two most important considerations are (a) your ability, and (b) your equipment.
The equipment is reasonably simple: a chair, a desk, a PC, good internet connection and a foot pedal (not essential – some manage extremely well using hotkeys).
And off you go…

The catch here is your ability. Dictaphone typing can be likened to transcription only in so far as one types another’s words. Dictaphone typing in an office situation deals with correspondence, reports, file notes – all of which should be familiar to you. If you work for a mining company, for instance, the subject of the above will be mining. If you find a strange name which you can’t make out you can ask for assistance; if a typo slips in, somebody will probably pick it up and correct it.

In the world of transcription you’re on your own and this is where the specialised skills of transcription come into play.

Spelling, grammar, punctuation
I believe I owe a client good English at the very least. You must be able to distinguish between principal and principle, there and their; to be able to hear the difference between his, he’s and hiss. If you are going to attempt to obtain international clients be aware of the difference between UK and USA punctuation and spelling.

Spellcheck!
This is a tool of vast importance – it is a gift – use it.

Reliability
Take rush jobs only when you have gained confidence. A client may be prepared to grant reasonable time for you to turn into an impeccable transcript, but, if you cannot meet the deadline, the client will move on immediately. Reliability is a key marketing tool in this game.

Typing speed
This should not be an overwhelming factor. Fair enough, you need to have a reasonable typing speed but you don’t need to be a whizz. There are plenty of other factors which contribute towards a great transcription.

Taking instruction
Fortunately most clients want intelligent verbatim – no err, mmm, or general babbling. Legal proceedings require keener attention to verbatim speech than interviews, for instance. It is up to you to enquire what the requirements are and stick to them. If a client sends a template don’t substitute yours.

General Knowledge and Google
Ah, don’t we just love Google? But even Google can’t read your mind. You will work in many different fields with a vast variety of subjects and you can’t just turn in a helpless well-I-can’t-know-everything transcript marred by question marks and the famous inaudible. Say, there is mention of a mine in Finland – your Finnish may be fluent but mine certainly isn’t – there are ways of tracking down that name. It takes time and skill but you can usually get there.

There are of course many aspects to be considered – marketing strategy, web design, advertising, your accounting system, tricks of the trade – the list is long – but it is my belief that without the above qualities you are not going to be successful in the transcription field.

Michele Johanson
Good Hope Transcription Services
michelejohanson@yahoo.com
http://goodhopetranscription.weebly.com
Fax
: 086 6021 791
Skype: Michelej6
Ph: 084 6944 307

 

Typing for Students

Student Typing

I thought I would repost this article as I am getting quite a few requests coming in from students looking for assistance in typing their Assignments, Dissertations, Masters, PhD, etc.

When typing for students the first thing you need, whether doing copy typing, formatting or transcribing student files is the student’s guidelines, which they get from their professors. The guidelines set out how they want the format of the document to be, tables, diagrams, layout, font, text size, referencing, spacing etc are all part of the formatting. If the student does not give you this document then ask for it, each student receives the guidelines before they start writing up assignments.
Universities follow Academic writing methods so if you have knowledge of this, it will assist you. They also follow specific styles, examples are the Harvard Business Method, APA etc, ask your student for a copy of the style guide,as they should have or you can find a copy on the Internet.

Professors are very specific about referencing within the text and in the reference listing at the back of the document. Its always a good idea to check that these match each other, as often students do not check this and they will lose marks specifically on this. With each reference listed within the text, there must be a final reference for it at the end of the document, in the reference list. If there is not a reference in the back from the text within the document, you can go and find the article etc., in Google Scholar. If you assist a student with researching for articles make sure you always take the citation to match the article etc.

At the end of your typing or transcribing always read through your work, to make sure, you have missed nothing and reading through gives the addition of proofing after doing a spell and grammar check.

If you want to add anything to this article or have additional comments please email me at amftyping@mweb.co.za or alison@amftyping.co.za, or skype: amftyping. If you require some assistance please contact me, I have typed, formatted, internet researched for students for years and I am always on hand to assist, should you require.

 

 

Save

How easy is it being a Virtual Assistant?

Being a Virtual Assistant (VA) is not all about the client sending you typing, you do the work and send it back, there is much more involved.
As a VA we do many things, there is month end administration with invoices every month so no matter how busy you are, you stop and do your invoices, it is important to be paid for the work we do. You set aside a day and get your invoices out. Bookkeeping and updating your schedules. This is just one part of our administration another part is, we need to push clients and contractors for payments and invoices, we have to battle with clients who do not want to pay, who query what we do.
One of our aims is to keep our clients happy all the time, we need to keep that client as they provide us with ongoing work so we nurture that client; our clients are our bread and butter. We need to liaise with our clients often.
Managing many clients work is not an easy task. Keep their work in separate folders also in my documents have client folders and in email. With regular clients it is best to invoice monthly. All my clients are regular so I prepare all their invoices at the end of the month and get them all out at the same time so that I can monitor payments coming in. This is where my work log comes in handy as I document all work incoming, and I check back against this when doing my invoicing for each client.
Administration as we call it is a major part of being a VA. We need to market continually, our company needs to be out in the public eye and be seen. Our websites/blogs need to be updated. We continually look for new avenue’s to market our work to. Networking is just as important, there is always the need to tell everyone and anyone what we do, who we are, get the word out there. Any person you talk to could be a potential clients or referral, that’s why it is important to talk about your business no matter where you are, when you can and who you are with. We continually need to look for avenue’s to advertise our companies.
Often we need to do debt collecting with clients who do not pay, this is not a nice part of the job but we must do it, we need to be paid for what we do.
Managing of contractors, when a VA is overloaded we then get the opportunity to help out newbie Vas by contracting to them or helping out established VAs with a bit of extra work. Contracting work out is not as easy as you think. We are on our contractors backs to get them to keep in touch, they need to meet our deadlines, what if the contractor decides she is not doing the work or cant for some reason then we need to find a replacement in the middle of the work that is time taking. Paying of contractors on completion of work.
Another favourite is quoting for work, often ad-hoc jobs come in and we need to arrange a quote, quoting is not quick we need to ask questions to be able to place a price on the work, very time consuming especially with larger jobs.
Filing must be done as with any job, the office administration as seen above is often the hardest part of our job to do, but that comes with running any company/business. There are still many other facets about being a virtual assistant, the best way to learn about doing this type of job is to talk to established VAs as they know what they are doing and they can give you valuable information.

So you see it is not all about sitting and typing, it is about running a full time business/company, and these are only a handful of the tasks we do.

Written by Alison Fourie VAcertified
AMF Typing Service cc

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked Questions

 

I get asked loads of questions, as I have time I  will add them to this post and republish, come back often.

Question (Q): I truly love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you develop this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own personal website and would like to find out where you got this from or what the theme is called. Appreciate it!

Answer (A): Thank you for the comment. My theme is from the WordPress own themes. All the content on the site is my own words, There may be an occasion article on the website from a few others, it is 90% my own content.

Q: Could you list of all of your shared sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

A: I do post info about my articles on twitter, linkedin and facebook.

Here are the links: Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amftyping     Blog:  http://alison-fourie.blogspot.com

Emails:  amftyping@mweb.co.za or alison@amftyping.co.za

 

follow me on twitter       follow me on facebook

 

 

 

Q: Do you have a basic pricing structure for your clients?

A: Before you start your business you need to plan your pricing/rates structure, this must be in place before that first client contacts you.

  • Ring around and get an idea from other more established VAs or look to VA websites, some VAs will state their rates. You need to research this. Look to the VA associations as they often have this type of information and it might be available to you. This should be part of your business plan. Look to recruitment companies, and the services you offer and look at the people with these services and look at the salaries they are getting offered, this is very helpful in finding your hourly rate. Work out your costs per month. Look at your previous salary and work out, do you need to earn the same or more, work it down to your hourly rate and use this rate to form your hourly rate or per package rate. Handy excel worksheet to help service based businesses figure out their hourly rate.

 

 

VAnetworking: Our “VA in a box” product which sells well plus has a good payout being a higher priced item. Includes 30 day digitized member area and everything you ever needed to start up a VA business including made for you website/hosting/domain name.

 

 

Q: Do you charge an hourly rate or do you price each service different.

A: Some services you can charge an hourly rate others you can’t, it’s dependent on the service and what is actually involved.

  • Take VA administration tasks, take an office administrator and check out what they earn, research this online, calculate their salaries down to an hourly rate and see if that rate is suitable for you, if not, adjust it accordingly to suit you. We are doing similar tasks in administration. You can offer a client with VA services a retainer package, offer them a few hours a day or week and offer a discount. A retainer can work well with jobs like this.
  • Some jobs are hard to research like data entry as most jobs out there are scams but we do occasionally get in real data entry, with this you take an entry see how long it takes you, what is involved with the task, what are the requirements and price accordingly maybe per entry or per an amount of entries like 50 to 100. You can approach the client and ask for an example so that you can better work out a price for them. You can even get your hourly rate down to an entry.
  • Transcription can be charged on an hourly rate. You charge for the size of transcription and for the amount of time it takes you to transcribe and proof read the work, usually 1 x 4 so if you have 1 hour of transcription tape you will times that by 4 to 6 depending on various factors of how many people are speaking, content of tape, background noise, multiple speakers, interference, language etc. Have a scale of prices for this and judge the tape/file on this, a one on one interview is great to transcribe and can be done quickly but others which are more complicated with multiple speakers and language and background noise well this will take a lot longer and this has to be taken into consideration with your pricing. Ask lots of questions before quoting on transcription as there are many of the above factors involved and you don’t want to undercharge.

 

 

  • Typing is usually charged at a per page rate. Some VAs charge on double or single space others don’t, its personal preference. Typing is also dependent on content. You can here take your hourly rate and break it down to how long it takes to type a page depending on content, and use this charge as your per page rate. Work it out on an average A4 single space or double spaced plain copy typing. Work out what you type per minutes and price accordingly looking at your A4 page and then you will be able to estimate a per page charge. Typing rates are also very dependent on location, Cape Town and Durban rates are far cheaper than rates up in Gauteng, even rates in Pretoria are lower than Johannesburg and its suburbs. We can’t change this; it’s not for the lack of trying. Rather ask a higher rate as then you can negotiate it down, doing it this way is much easier, then negotiation on a medium to low rate as then it could end up being not worth doing. Clients will and often try to negotiate you down, if you know what you are worth and know what service you will provide stick to your views, if the client wants you to do the work they will agree to your pricing. When a client wants a quality job done they want go for the cheapest price. Never underestimate what you are worth, and don’t let a client dictate your price, the odd few clients will have a price and ask you to do it at that price, you can speak up and say no that is not worth it to me and then explain to the client why and what is involved, they can and do change their minds when they see you know what you are talking about.
  • With services like event organization, you need to see exactly what is involved and give a cost estimate, get as many details as possible from the client and then start researching the people, accommodation, food, expenses, travel etc that are involved. An hourly rate can be used successfully here or you look at the costs of the whole package and take a percentage of the final cost to the client for the work that involves your company. Event organization will depend on each function/event that you organize as they each will have their own requirements, so each will need to be priced per event.
  • Telephone services, providing service to a company by taking their company calls or making their calls to clients, this can be done by using a retainer package and giving the client a block of your time or you can cost it down which really is not the way to go as you will barely make anything charging per call. This involves doing your research on call costs via the different telephone companies, Telkom, MSN, Vodacom etc. The best with this is to take a rough estimate and add on your time and give this price to the clients for calls national and local, cell and landline, give a set price for all. I am doing telephone services at the moment and charging my client an hourly rate as it is easier.

 

 

  • Typing of CV’s. Charge a set price per individual CV to a client and a set price for bulk CV’s from a recruitment company.
  • Proof reading services do your research and check out companies that offer this services via the internet, companies are charging per a set amount of words to proof. The going rate seems to be from R15 to R30 for every 100 words you proof, prices seem to be in the R15 to R30 bracket, i think though if you research this you might find prices higher, so do your research for a basic price first, research this well before pricing there is a big price difference country wide.
  • Presentation slides, flow diagrams, spreadsheets, graphs etc, look at how easy or difficult, the content, what is involved, this is different to copy typing as you are creating and might be using other software to do this. Have a basis set price for easy and then add for the difficulty level with this, I’ve loads of experience at doing these and am quite happy to help/assist you prepare a quote on it.
  • Internet Research, check out with companies like Post-net and research companies, internet cafe’s etc, see what is being charged for this and price accordingly. I price this on my hourly rate, as I find it usually takes me a few hours, but I’ve broken it down into 15 minute segments like the internet cafe’s do.
  • Looking after a client’s diary, making appointments (Client services), and here I would block charge and give a retainer package, I wouldn’t individualize tasks as then you really will be lowering your price.

 

 

  • Typing of assignments for students, look at student background, race, location, the assignments are normally long, lots of editing by student, lecturer often changes font, size requirements half with through assignment, don’t under-price yourself and give this service away for free as you think the student can’t afford it, often students can, otherwise, they would simply do it themselves, you are freeing them up so they can carry on with their lives. And it’s not always simply copy typing, watch out for this often there is graphics involved and flow diagrams. Please don’t charge prices like R5 to R10 for this, as it really is not worth your while to do, don’t fall into this price bracket, surely your services are worth more and you are sitting for hours doing this, the student is not. Typing of books for authors is also very much like this, there is lots of editing involved; you are the one sitting with the typing for hours on end. I’ve typed up books that have taken months to type, and believe me for R10 per page it’s not worth it for your time and effort. This is something I did when I first started out, now the price is much more as I’ve learnt the hard way. Authors receive nice pay cheques for books these days. Everyone has a fancy for typing for authors but you must make it worth your while to do.

If there is questions that I’ve not covered that interests you, please contact me.

Q: Do you panic if a client rings you and wants a price from you without you seeing the work, as they don’t always send the work through for you to view?

A: Speak to the client  and explain to them that you do not quote blindly, ask if they can send you an example of the work, to give you an idea of what is involved. I have never had a client refuse to do this, this has happened to other VAs though, these types of clients are often looking for the job to be done cheap. Clients will send an example and that gives you an idea of what you need to do to then prepare a proper quotation. Giving a client an Estimated Quotation is a better idea as often there is more involved than what you see in the example. They can typically send you through the pages of a document with just text and then you find out once received that there is tables, graphics etc and they are out of format and this takes more time, so often its a good idea to go with an estimated quote.

Q: Do you panic regardless when a client contacts you?

A: Try not to panic, you know your job, you know what you are doing, the client might not know and this gives you an advantage. Be friendly, project your interest, ask lots of questions. Ask the client about themselves, ask about their companies. Be assertive but not to assertive and ask positive questions.

  • You are on the same level as clients, treat them as equals, don’t be frightened of them. If you come across as not confident this shows especially with women clients, they will talk down to you, that is for sure. Women clients you will find, like to appear in control and you need to also appear in control of what you are doing to be seen by them as peers and as equals.
  • As a VA you are running a business and providing a service, so that puts you on the same level as that client who needs to use your services. Don’t let a client treat you like a secretary, you must come across as confident in what you are doing, know what you are talking about, and know your job inside out. A stuttering, I’m not sure VA will be treated as secretaries as that is what you will come across to the clients as.
  • It is very nerve wracking dealing with the first client but after that you will find with each new client your confidence will grow. You can tell the potential client that they are your first and that you are nervous and they will understand, as they have been there themselves. Be open, friendly and honest with clients.

Have ready a:

  • Rates listing as then it’s easier to price more complicated jobs, look at what is involved, the time it will take you, how complicated, look at all the factors first before pricing, can you meet that deadline, if not, ask for more time, you can do this, always look at the bigger picture before pricing a job/task. Look at the work you have currently, look at how you would schedule the work in, ask as many questions as you can. You can give a price estimate and let the client know the price might change slightly here or there when you actually receive the work and look at it, Clients will accept this. If you are unsure you can always ask on our Tavasa email forum for assistance, we have lots of experience in doing this.
  • I work from a basic price list all the time, I check what is involved with the job, how long it will take me, can I fit it in, what is actually involved with doing that job, if I’ve got typing I look at what the content is, does it have in graphics, tables as these are time taking and I will adjust my pricing to cater for doing this, you can’t just copy a table you must create it, then put in the info this is time taking and the more complicated the table the longer it takes. With Graphics you might need to scan them or insert them from online, this costs you extra to do it in time and money so make sure you compensate yourself for this. Very rare do I get a document that is just plain copy typing, I get in horrible documents for typing, so therefore I don’t skimp on my pricing, I know what is involved and the time it will take me, so if you need help and assistance on this please shout, I’ve the experience and don’t mind helping.

 

 

 

Q: Asking a client for an example of work?

A: When a client refuses to send you work, often they are looking for cheap pricing, if they want a quotation from you, ask all the relevant questions you can think of for that kind of service. It would help you if you make up a list of questions for each service you are offering to ask potential clients. If they want it cheap then maybe that is not the job for you, don’t underestimate your worth to clients. A cheap job is not worth it in time and money and is a sheer waste of you time. Don’t just take the job for the love of getting the work that is not the way to run a successful business.

Q: Have you researched pricing on the internet for overseas clients?

A: With overseas pricing, do your research, check out what the prices are via the internet, check out overseas VAs, Transcribers websites, some display prices, some don’t, then prepare yourself a list of pricing for your services that you offer so that they are equivalent to your overseas counterparts. Do not offer your service at your Rand price, that is not the way to do this, otherwise the client will think they are getting a very cheap service and they will be and then we will be thought of as no different from Indian, Chinese and cheap overseas labour. We should be compatible with our overseas competition. I do have some price listings of overseas work.

Q: Do you know how to prepare a quotation?
A: To prepare a quotation, you need to know what is involved with the job. You then need to work out what it will cost you to do this job, the more information you get on the job the easier to quote. Prepare a quote on company letterhead and attached email back to the client, this gives a professional look. If you need assistance with this or a copy of my quotation form to customize, please contact me. See forms below, these forms can be customised for any VA, Transcription or Services based task/job.

Transcription Job Request Form          VA Estimate Quotation form

Setting Hourly Rates for the VAs

 

 

 

 

 

The Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants Forum of South Africa
T A VA S A
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/tavasa/ Yahoo group email based discussion forum

From Wikipedia:
An Internet forum, or message board, is a bulletin board system in the form of a discussion site. People participating in an Internet forum will usually build bonds with each other and interest groups will easily form around a topic’s discussion, subjects dealt with in or around sections in the forum.

Belonging to a forum is like being part of a family, you get to know everyone on the forum and it is a great place to discuss work problems, issues, advice, software problems, advertise events, courses etc. It is a great place to spread industry news.
Our forum was founded by Gaynor Paynter (Transcriptionist) and Alison Fourie (Virtual Assistant). This forum is very chatty with Vas and Transcriptionists asking many questions.

An example being;
Question: What in your opinion is the best digital recorder to advise a client to buy?
Answer: I think the most used one is Olympus, anybody have a closer idea than that? Thanks.

Other forums members will answer with their options and often a discussion will ensure. It is also a great place to vent your frustrations on when you have a bad day, there is always someone on the forum who will reply and give you encouragement that things will get better.
Forums are an excellent way of communicating with groups of people, especially so in the working environment.

The benefits of forums:
1. Working from a virtual location, you can keep in touch with what is happening with the industry you work in.
2. No need to get lonely as often there is always someone around on the forum who will reply.
3. It is an excellent way of passing information around a group of people.
4. You can use the forum for pc problems, questions you need to know about the industry you work in.
5. A means of communicating.
6. A forum is an excellent support tool.
7. A good networking tool for small businesses.

Since the creation of Tavasa, we have helped many people working from home with questions and answers that they do not know. The more established people on the forum have been able to answer questions which helps the newbie members and assists them in setting up their own businesses.
Tavasa has been successful in that it also provides job leads and contractor positions, anyone who is part of the group can apply for a contracting position if they have the skill needed. It is a great way of getting help with projects that you need and it’s a good starting point for newbies contracting out, as they grow their own businesses.

Written by Alison Fourie, AMF Typing Services cc, © Copyright 2001 AMF Typing Services cc®, Ck2001/083866/23. All rights reserved.