As a former executive assistant at a major design center, I worked with many interior designers. Two things often stood out to me. Their need for assistance and help with the “side work”, i.e.: customer service calls, mailings, marketing, and project management scheduling. The other thing that I noticed was that more often than not, they were operating on a limited budget. They were forced to wear many different hats, when all they really wanted was to devote their time to their chosen profession, interior design.
This design center provided limited administrative assistance for the designers. Many of them were still clamoring for help. They never had enough time for all that was required of them. During my five years there, I worked with clients who had customer service issues or design related issues. Often, working towards an agreeable solution with such customers took huge amounts of time. Designing for someone involves facing many emotions on the part of the customer. Your home is being re-arranged, or in many cases, torn apart for renovations. Sometimes the designers were working with clients who were building new homes and even more emotions flowed. They all told me of their wish for more support with the administrative and clerical side of things.
I believe many designers today are so used to being self sufficient that they spend at least 35% of their time on clerical tasks. If you are a solo business owner, you typically keep your own calendar, make your own appointments, monitor your own email and voicemail, maybe even create your own website. All the time spent on these tasks could theoretically be spent on more important things: design time, searching for new clients, visiting textile factories or fabric houses, or perhaps going on a design conference.
There is a new type of assistance out there called virtual assistance that makes it possible for designers to afford some type of office support. They can now have the time for more important aspects of their business. In addition, Mac Virtual Assistant services go hand in hand with the artistic entrepreneur, as many artists are Mac users.
If you are an entrepreneur designer or decorator, the only sensible solution to growth is to consider adding assistants who can help your business. Yet, you may have a lot of reasons that prevent you from hiring an “on-site” assistant, even if you need one. Cost probably being the main one. Wouldn’t it be great if you had an assistant that was always there for you, when you need them? Meet the virtual assistant. A new concept that provides great solutions for small businesses and helps to give your new design business the manpower it needs.
Salaried workers are much more of an immediate expense. You must provide a workspace, computers, supplies, and, you also have federal and state tax obligations. Don’t forget about benefits – sick leave, vacation time and holidays. Did you know the true cost of an “on-site” assistant is possibly double the cost of their yearly salary in terms of benefits and liabilities? Today’s virtual assistants operate as independent contractors, therefore there are no employee related expenses or headaches.
As a designer, you may be reluctant to have your clients speak to anyone other than you. Enter the virtual assistant. They are used to getting along with a wide variety of personalities due to the global nature of their businesses. They are well suited to speak to your design clients because they have “built in” office manager skills which enable them to handle many difficult situations. Whereas a traditional employee has mainly one boss, virtual assistants have many different clients. The skills to treat different personalities with care and attention to detail go hand in hand with the virtual support profession.
Today’s designers and decorators do not need to purchase any special equipment to enjoy the benefits of virtual administrative help. The convenience of not having to set up an office for an employee saves massive amounts of time, money and worry. If you have a small workspace, this comes as a nice surprise. You don’t have to set aside precious “real estate” for an employee. Your space can be what it was meant for: a studio for you to create and implement your designs, and see them through to fruition.
Author bio: Taryn Merrick is a Professional Virtual Assistant and Online Business Manager (OBM). As Principal of Merrick Management And Media Services, she has over 20 years of administrative management experience. Taryn works to promote the Virtual Assistant industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Her style is easy going, yet precise, with emphasis placed on exceeding customer expectations, client communication and satisfaction.
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