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Does an SME need an office – Part 2 – Employee costs..

In Part 2 of our “Does an SME need an office?” article we look at how you can save on staff costs.

In a new business start up, employee costs are one of the biggest challenges to deal with. Whilst there is no main source of income initially there are plenty of employee costs to pay, such as salaries, employer NICs, holiday and sickness payments, equipment costs (desks, computers – hardware and software, premises) and also rent.

You may feel that you are unlikely to be able to manage all these tasks yourselves and without staff, how do you get new sales, deal with admin, answer the phones, find time to develop your business etc. the list goes on

Even in more established companies, in these current economic times, your company may have to reduce the head count to reduce costs but you may not be able to survive without some of the roles and jobs being carried out.

Also, a common problem for new start ups and more established company, is what to do if a member of staff is off sick or on holiday – do you employ temporary staff or somehow manage and split the roles between the staff? How do you deal with unexpected leave or sickness of a key member of staff.

One popular approach to such issues is to consider the use of virtual assistants, the number of companies using a virtual assistant has increased greatly in the last 10 years.

A virtual assistant is not a full time member of your staff, they are employed on a “need only” basis. A company therefore does not have to pay taxes, statutory payments for sickness, maternity, paternity or holiday or any associated overheads. You may not need to rent premises if your work if carried out by one or a number of virtual assistants.

Virtual assistants can perform a range of tasks for you, such as:

  • General administration  -  carrying out the basic tasks, typing, responding to emails etc. so that owners and managers can concentrate on the money generating activity.
  • Specialist tasks – such as social media management, developing SM strategies and writing your blogs, tweets or updating facebook pages.
  • Telephone Answering – if you need someone to answer the phone but do not want to employ a full time receptionist, a virtual assistant can answer your phone with a personalised greeting, projecting a positive impression of your business.

You have to bear in mind that 70% of people will not leave a message if they get through to voicemail.

There are a number of roles that telephone answering can perform

  • Receptionist – They can either take messages and email them to you or act as a live receptionist and patch the calls through to you or your staff.
  • PA Services – taking message and helping to co-ordinate your diary.
  • Process your orders.
  • Act as your customer service department .
  • Deal with call overflows.
  • Telephone answering can also provide holiday and sickness cover from 1 day to a few months. If a business owner needs to take time off, an assistant can provide the necessary cover and relay messages to the owner daily, weekly or on their return to work.
  • Fulfilment – if you are expecting calls perhaps after a marketing campaign, requesting brochures or further information, a virtual assistant can deal with all calls and send out the information via direct mail or email.

All these roles carried out by a virtual assistant saves you money on employing full time staff as you may only require us at busy times or periods during the day or year.  The employer only pays when the virtual assistant is on the phone and being productive to your business.

There are many virtual assistants working throughout the UK, they all have different skills and expertise and you will need one that meets your expectations and needs. Therefore, before you consider employing staff, establish the exact roles the new staff would perform and whether it would be more cost effective and efficient use of your resources to use a virtual assistant.