Well, it has been quite awhile since I did a post. But, since it has, it is convenient that the subjects are tied together…
During September of 2009, I did begin the process of training a backup. It has had its ups and downs, but this is why it has been successful:
- I hired the right person – I interviewed a couple and considered a couple of others. I allow the person to work during the middle of the day while her kids are at school. The flexibility is fantastic for her, and I am able to do both business and personal things while she manages things.
- Flexibility – Although the training had its challenges and occasional frustrations, we both had the end goal in mind. The present arrangement allows her to log in from her office to both the phones and the accounting program. We chat on line if issues come up, but daily she gains a little more knowledge. And, she has every Wednesday off. This allows her to still “feel” like she is a stay-at-home mom one day a week.
- I hired a consultant – I did not want the headache of an employee, so from the start, she had the option of the hourly wage if she were an employee OR if she was a consultant. And, since the consultant wage was higher, she chose this. If she were an employee, I could dictate her hours better. Fortunately, things have worked pretty well.
- Have plenty of work for them to do – Last March, I hired a consultant in India to help with my website. She was very good at doing exactly what I told her to do. However, when it wasn’t clear, the 10 1/2 hour time difference had me on Skype far longer than I would have desired – often until midnight or after. Now, when my “American” consultant isn’t answering the phones or placing orders, she can update websites and do other minor changes to fill the slow times.
- Be honest – If they see you being dishonest with customers, they question if you will always be honest with them. And, during the training period, she saw how I tried to keep the customer in the forefront of business decisions. If the sale is not right for me or the customer, she saw how I directed the customer to a site or company that might better meet their needs.
What was the driver in hiring a consultant? Beyond the possible burnout, my wife wanted to take a family vacation over Christmas. Prior to this hire, I had always taken my laptop with me. But, on this vacation, I could leave the laptop at home and know that all customers and orders could still be addressed. It was a VERY good feeling!!