Swiss & Camplings Laundry is a successful 150 year old family business, with sites in Cambridge and Great Yarmouth. Bay Tree VA was introduced to Richard Turvill, Managing Director, in 2019 when Richard had been unsuccessful recruiting a part-time PA and was sceptical of VAs as a resource solution.
Richard: “What I hadn’t appreciated is that the VA role is very different to that of a PA. I envisaged having to keep finding things for my VA to do, typing etc. but it couldn’t be more different. For example, I mentioned that we needed a quarterly newsletter, nothing more than that. To Louise, our Bay Tree VA (BTVA), it was a project she could handle – I didn’t need to get involved.
Our BTVA started off looking after our Board Meetings, collating the reports with Board members, taking minutes at the meetings, that sort of thing. People assume that a VA is only ever ‘virtual’ but Louise comes along each month and takes an active role with the Board. Working with the Board proved to be a good first step as it gave Louise a great understanding of the business which keeps her in step with me and the other directors.”
With the advancement of tech and the familiar ‘working from home’, this project-based approach to resourcing is more and more popular. It provides managers with a specific resource for tackling projects that would otherwise be disruptive to their focus.
We asked Richard what advice he would give to someone looking to work with a Bay Tree VA and how he describes the benefits.
Richard: “Jane only recruits VAs that can work on their own initiative, are proactive and have experience that will benefit your business, so with that in mind you can decide the natural flow of work from some core activities. For us it was working with the Board – regular contact and important work that needed discretion and accuracy. Once you get some key tasks working and the confidence, the rest follows. We speak weekly which is important and there is a symbiosis and understanding between us. I have to say she is incredibly patient.
The main benefit is you’re getting an intelligent but affordable resource. Louise makes suggestions and offers solutions. She gives her thoughts based on experience from working in other situations which is really helpful. I do like the fact that there is a backup when Louise isn’t around – holidays particularly. I would say to anyone taking on a VA that you need to be flexible. It’s a two-way street. At the outset Louise had to understand the way I work (slightly unstructured) and I have to respect Louise’s choice to work only certain hours/days to suit her home life.
Any business owner will know that one of the greatest challenges when you get a good employee is keeping them. Another benefit with a VA is that their job spec isn’t nailed down so the longer they work with you the more you can challenge them with interesting or senior level work without any disruption elsewhere in the business. Louise is now a trusted colleague and sounding board, who can put up with my sense of humour and somewhat creative style of management. For me, that’s the value of a Bay Tree VA.”
Many thanks to Richard for his reflections on using our Bay Tree VA service. If you think the VA approach to resourcing and support for your business might work for you, email firstname.lastname@example.org.« Bay Tree VA and AlphaBio Control – a sustainable relationship | Celebrating 15 years »
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