Archive for the ‘Business news’ Category

New way to outsource…here at home

Virtual Receptionist

Domestic Outsourcing just makes sense

Small and medium sized business owners are starting to hit a wall with the way the economy is going. It’s not easy to hire employees at the drop of a hat that can be specialists, or even non specialists and bring value to the business for wages that make sense.

In comes the thought of outsourcing; send what you can overseas…or should you? The Big guys do it, why not us? Isn’t that how to keep costs down? Isn’t that the way to control my business without having to pay out of my profits so heavily?

I know of a couple people that have Virtual Assistants overseas and love it, and I’ve heard a few horror stories about how inefficient they are, comprehension issues, etc.

So where budgets no longer allow for the hiring of new employees there’s an age old challenge that allows businesses to holds its owners down; make them work in the business until they really make it big or they finally fail simply because they are overwhelmed with the work, become too busy to deal with the daily operations and can’t get out to make the cash register ring, or they just give up.

So what about outsourcing…Domestic?

As many small businesses are opening there are just as many business owners that are trying to figure out if it’s still worth the stress and the strain of having to build it from scratch only to get held up because they can’t afford to hire that employee they need, or just shut it down.

Numbers alone already show that even with 25% profitability that someone would have to gross thousands to employ one employee

What's my profit margin?

for 8 hours. (Essentially 10K+ gross to justify a $2100-$2500/mo employee at or around minimum wage)

So what to do then? Outsource? As far back as 2004 Inc.com already had an article that said States were rewarding companies that DIDN’T outsource offshore.

The reasons to do outsource are many. Ease of focusing on core functions, lower operational cost, (huge one) Access to global knowledge base for creative and strategic planning, possibly freeing up resources for projects that need capital infusion etc.

However, when your local and state government are giving you reasons to NOT do it, even with incentives to not outsource, how can you bear having to do all the work yourself? How do you justify the cost of having an employee? I’ve known family businesses with families that have this false sense of pride in having a “family business” when they are actually drowning in it losing time together, losing time to themselves, losing their own identities and becoming the business in a way that is just not fulfilling.

So what’s the solution? Outsourcing…domestic, on shore, at home.

But that’s insane! No company that is a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) will work with a small or medium sized business right? Wrong.

New Niche, new way for the little guys to get out there and compete with the big guys.

Keeping in touch with your customers Live is what keeps your business growing

The secret is using a “Shared” model where numerous companies can share in the talents of one seat rather than having to buy a dedicated agent. (or five to ten as most BPOs would require) Being able to participate in the marketplace with a means to cut costs on virtual reception, Live Chat interaction, Email interaction, Text SMS services, etc can really help to increase revenue by having the menial tasks cared for while you concentrate on what’s important…making the cash register ring.

You don’t have to sacrifice your business’ identity, and you get to keep control over your company’s brand identity and brand affinity. There is a new breed of outsourcing that will help you keep things local, efficient, accurate, and definitely out there available for your market. You just need to search them out and make sure they will do it according to your parameters or that there can be a viable work around to get the job done.

The obvious benefit to the economy here at home is that more jobs are created and more people can work for a living that makes sense to them and their families.

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Top Five Reasons to Outsource…Domestic

There’s talk of how outsourcing would make sense. It’s not huge, but it’s out there and it’s gaining a bit of steam.

So what would the top five reasons to outsource domestic be? The same as doing it offshore, it’s just that now you can afford it.

Here’s a short list as to what the benefits are to using an on shore solution.

BPO

BPOs are big honkin call centers meant for the big boys

1. Lower cost for operations – Face it, hiring an employee will cost you thousands even if they are minimum wage. The load pushes it up even higher and that just doesn’t cut it for 8 hours. Especially if you need the coverage for more than that. Having someone sit around that is only 8 hours and not necessarily producing that whole time is just not justified.

2. Able to focus on core functions – Virtual Assistants are great for one person operations, virtual reception, Live Chat and email interactions are great for small businesses that want to continue to focus on doing what they do best. (Doctors, Lawyers, Service providers, I even know a guy that uses outsourcing to sell his cigarette alternatives) Think about this if you’re tied to your phones right now, this is a way to get away from them and not be tied to our business, but it can be tied to you. You deal with the intel at your discretion, not the prospect or suspect.

3. Freeing up internal resources – Instead of having the receptionist tied to a desk and hiring another office person, why not have a virtual receptionist take care of the appointment setting and other non-core functions of the office (things that can be handled outside the immediate office) while the receptionist focuses on customer care, and assisting with other office functions. (Filing, follow up, proactive response rather than reactive)

4. Some companies can realize the benefit of re-engineering their processes while having a service like this in place; Even the little guys need breathing space to really see what’s going on. So, why not have an outsourcing company do some of the work for you, when the time comes to take that particular process back there will be other processes still needing to be covered.

5. Convenience – Do you really like having to answer your phone 24/7? Do you like missing your chat and missing a sale? Is it worth the lack of customer service when you’re sick that no one ever gets to them and interacts with them live? Why would you sacrifice that? I know a lot of people that have already told me that their customers know sometimes if the phone isn’t answered they’re busy…really? You will settle for that when there are opportunities to have someone else that you teach how to answer for you, how to work as if your actual employee, and can give that personalized service that normally only you can provide? You will settle for that?

If you have, you’ve given up your life for a business that owns you. Reminder: The American Dream isn’t to be owned by your business, (or anyone or anything else for that matter) but to own a business and succeed it. Find an onshore solution that can help you with some of your processes and get them off your shoulders. There are more benefits to doing this than I’ve outlined, but these five should get you thinking about doing something different, or we live out the definition of our friend Albert Einstein when he spoke on the subject of insanity.

The three “R”s…

Recently Cory Treffiletti, president and managing partner for Catalyst SF, wrote a quick article on the three “R”s of marketing, and got things back to basics.

To go over them real quick they are; recency, resonance and relevance.

Recency is the amount of time that passed since the last time your particular target market saw or heard from you. Resonance is how you rang in their ear…did you make an impressino? Did you get their attention?

And then relevance…were you what they were looking for? If not at that time, now? Do you still have relevance in their mind?

A lot of times we think everyone should have what we’ve got to offer, and forget that a return on customer is a constant changing or adapting to what your customer or client needs at that time.

I was asked once what my definition of Quality was, after a bit of thought, I answered, “The best possible product or service given to the customer at that moment in time.” It could have been by most terms described as a cowardly answer as it seems to take no solid stance or no real posture to relevancy. I beg to differ though, if you have a mind set to adapt to what your customer wants when they want it, your competitor however strong a brand they may be, may lose that customer or client to you simply because you resonated in their ears a lot more than the familiar brand they are used to and with a product or service that is the one niche they are loking for, Can this be a curse too? yes, let’s be honest you have to have something that everyone will associate you with as far as a brand they can recognize or identify with.

An advantage to being that type of “quality” though, is the ability to adapt to your suctomers needs through constant metrics and testing to see what your market is looking for and giving it to them at that moment in time, There are some Business Intelligence tools that can help with that, and then sometimes it will take a bit more of just watching and listening to the marketplace to see what everyone wants or needs. Get in front of them and make your offering.

All in all though making sure your three “R”s are in order and continual, your business stands to profit the most when everyone knows you have what they want. Driving behavior is the key. If you can effect mass re-programming, you stand to profit well!

Find yours and Keep it Rolling!