Scheduling for Your VA Business

Once you get established with a few clients, it’s easy to find your schedule either keeping you insanely busy or insanely bored. There doesn’t seem to be much in the middle, which is your ideal. So this month I’m offering tips on how to schedule your workload out.

First of all, never go over 30 hours a week with scheduling your clients. So make sure you account for that in creating your hourly rate. Why? Well, two reasons. One, this allows you the opportunity to be flexible with your ongoing current clients if they need more from you one week than they do normally. They will appreciate that and their loyalty to you will increase.

Also, it allows you time for one time projects that might drop in sporadically (and with minimum charges on those they usually turn out to be very profitable). This also gives you time to handle some of your own business administrative functions (billing, record keeping, etc.) during normal business hours so you are not up late at night or weekends when you should be spending time with family.

Next, make sure your contracts all state that normal business requests must be scheduled 48 hours in advance. This way, when someone calls and says, “Heather, are you available to work with me on a project on Friday?” on a Wednesday, you can open your calendar and schedule appropriately.

Many clients will try to treat you like an employee–requesting same day if not immediate turn arounds. This is your time to remind them that while you do try to process same day requests, you do require a 48 hour notice for all normal business requests and that rush fees can apply if they need things done sooner.

Now, I’m pretty flexible with most of my clients, because I understand that things DO come up as a surprise now and again. So most of the time I don’t charge a rush fee for doing work the same day or in less than 48 hours from request unless they either are abusing this by constantly wanting things done same day or I’m really that busy that I can’t process their requests same day unless I work until midnight. Those two times, I will actually tell them that if I do their work I will require a rush fee in addition to normal hourly rates.

Always keep an electronic and a paper copy of your calendar. Technology is great, but you never know when it will decide not to function anymore! Even if I know a phone call or project will only take 30 minutes or so, I go ahead and block an hour in my schedule just in case something goes wrong or the client requests changes afterward.

This is a good rule of thumb to keep yourself out of a quandary and it gives you the opportunity to get up and stretch your legs or get some fresh air or a cup of coffee between projects. Believe it or not, these little “breaks” even if just for a minute or two will help keep your mind fresh all day.

Keep moving toward success

Business Letters – The Different Types of Business Letters

All business letters are written to make something happen. They either inform or seek information or action. A business letter that doesn’t seek action is a non-letter and should never have been written.

This article discusses the main types of business letters and their purposes:

Letters of Transmission

These letters, also called “cover” letters accompany something that is being sent to someone and explain why and from whom the item is being sent. For example, when a company’s annual report is distributed, it is usually accompanied by a letter of transmission highlighting several key points in the report and informing recipients that the report is enclosed or attached.

Letters that Inform

As the title suggests, these letters are intended to inform recipients about something. If you have a mortgage, you may have received a letter from your financial institution advising you that your interest rate has increased. This is a common example of a letter that informs.

Requests and Responses to Requests

Businesses write to individuals or businesses requesting a variety of things or events. These letters of request are usually responded to with letters of response.

Letters of Offer and Acceptance

When a person applies for a job and is successful, he or she usually receives a letter of offer outlining the terms and conditions of the job. Letters of Offer are also used for contracts. When a person accepts an offer, a letter of acceptance is used.

Sales Letters

Everyone knows what a sales letter is, they need no explanation. If you are like me, you receive far too many of them.

Condolence Letters

These aren’t common, but occasionally businesses send letters of condolence to spouses of employees who die, whose family members die, or who otherwise run into a sad or difficult time in their lives.

Conclusion

The interesting thing about letters is that each has a different way of being written depending on it’s purpose. All should have the three common elements; an opening paragraph explaining what the letter is about, the body with full details, and an action ending asking for something to happen.

When I receive a letter written by someone who has completed a business communication course, I can tell within seconds. Most of the other letters I receive are mediocre at best or poor at worst.

If you are in the business of writing business letters, reports or other documents and haven’t studied business communication, I strongly suggest you enrol at the earliest or at least read some of the other articles I have written about business communication.

How to Start and Grow Your Own Auto Tow Truck Business

Owning your own auto tow truck business can be an extremely lucrative business. Entrepreneurs that operate auto towing businesses typically enjoy stable profits. Auto tow truck business owners can begin their operation with one truck, a business plan, a business license and insurance. There is always a need for vehicles to be towed. This results in a stable, practically recession proof business for many business owners. On any day of the week there are a number of vehicles that need to be towed for a variety of reasons. Reasons may include the following:

Vehicles are repossessed.
Vehicles may be abandoned.
Vehicles are parked in no parking areas.
Vehicles are immobilized due to accidents.
Vehicles regularly break down due to mechanical problems.
Vehicles may illegally parked due to violating street cleaning regulations.
Vehicles may have been driven by motorists arrested for various reasons.
Vehicles may be illegally parked with major parking violations such as fire hydrant blocking, etc.

If you start your auto tow truck business with one truck you won’t get in over your head too soon. With one truck you can manage your costs and determine if your actually net income matches your projected income based on your business plan. This also gives you an opportunity to examine weaknesses in your business if any. It also allows you to determine your strengths. This self-assessment is important because if you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can make adjustments where necessary.

When starting an auto tow service business you will need to establish hours of service. You may need to offer 24 hour service if you plan to secure contracts with local and state government agencies. Government agencies as well as many businesses request 24 hour towing service capability as cars need to be towed 24 hours each day.

You can successfully operate a 24 hour operation with one truck. However, you will need two drivers. This way the hours can be divided into two 12 hour shifts for each. Therefore, each person can be on call for twelve hours each day.

You must promote your business so you should have promotional material. This should include at the very least business cards. You should call on companies that need towing services. This should include auto repair companies and other companies that need towing services including government agencies.

As your business becomes more profitable you should look for ways to increase your income. This can be accomplished by hiring more drivers and purchasing additional vehicles. The safest way to do this is to add one additional truck and one or two drivers at a time. This is what many small business owners with limited capital choose to do.

Prior to purchasing another truck you should have determined that the business income is sufficient to accommodate the purchase of an additional truck and the additional equipment required to do the job successfully. Also, there are the increased insurance costs. All additional expenses should be taken into consideration. Taking the time to build your business slowly is often the best road to success.