This is one of my favorite topics to talk about because I consider this to be more of an advanced topic that only advanced business owners would mostly be interested in. Tiny Hands, my jewelry business, is definitely in more advanced stages and so it’s something that comes up a lot with my business. It’s also a topic that isn’t talked a lot about, so there aren’t a lot of resources out there.
The reason I wanted to talk about outsourcing is because this week I have been going through the experience of finding a new customer service representative for Tiny Hands. This came about because the business has been really growing in the past few months and it’s gotten to a point where I’ve been getting a ton of emails every day. I would sit in front of my computer, look at my email inbox, and I would feel so overwhelmed just from looking at the number of emails I needed to respond to. This is probably how you would feel when you’ve come to a bottleneck with your business. It doesn’t have to be answering customer service emails, it could be with production help or even marketing. Maybe you’re at your wit’s end with all of the social media content you need to create day in and day out.
When it comes to outsourcing any sort of help for your business, it’s scary. I’ve thought of a scary thing that tends to come up for us.
- Letting go. I have done a lot of hiring in the last few years for both Tiny Hands and Creative Hive. I’ve literally outsourced virtually everything you can of. I’ve outsourced blog post writing, virtual assistants, social media – responding to comments, creating content, I’ve even outsourced PR and publicity, I’ve hired a professional PR agency, I’ve worked with graphic designers, video editors, sound editors, you name it and I’ve probably hired someone in that area. The very last thing I’ve yet to outsource, though, is customer service. I’ve realized that I’ve had personal struggles with letting go of this process, so I took some time to think about it and it really boils down to the fact that I’m so protective of my brand. Never once in my entire business life, since 2006, have I gotten an email from someone saying my customer service sucks. I really pride myself in treating my customers in a really gracious, generous, happy, and positive way. I feel that customer communication through email or even social media is such a sensitive way and it can be handled in many different ways. I feel that I have my own way of handling those situations and I don’t feel like I could teach anyone.When I began my process of looking for a customer service representative for Tiny Hands, I was overwhelmed by thinking about where to even start. I could find the right person, but where do I even begin with teaching them the way I think and the systems I have? Do I even have systems? It’s really scary and it just needs to be done one step at a time. You need to get all of your processes out of your head and onto paper.When I hired my production assistants for Tiny Hands, they helped me make every piece of jewelry. A majority of the pieces that get shipped out to customers are made by my assistants. When I started my process of hiring, I literally thought it would be impossible to teach someone else how to do the things I did. Having been through those experiences, I’ve come to learn when you hire people and start outsourcing, it’s just a matter of finding the right person with the right attitude. Everything else you can teach.With Tiny Hands, for example, when I started hiring production assistants the first few people I worked with don’t work with me anymore. I’ve hired five people in that area and I only, to this day, work with two of them and I have for a few years now. The first few people I hired that didn’t stick around, that was my mistake. I wanted to find people that had some experience, but not necessarily had the right attitude. If you want to find someone who is loyal, you can trust, and who can ultimately do really good work for you, they just need to have the right attitude. They need to have the openness to learn new things, they need to be open to criticism, and they need to understand how your business works.
When I hired the two people I work with today, neither of them have done any work before with polymer clay. Generally based on their work history and stuff that they did prior to coming to work for me, you could tell attention to detail wasn’t something they struggled with. We spent four to five months meeting two times a week going through how to work with polymer clay. Really take the time to train your assistants and have patience with that process.
There are going to be many times when you will think: “Why should I bother training you and taking the time to teach you how to do this when I could just get it done myself in so much less time?” I remember having this struggle and still have to this day. Remember that any time you spend training your assistants is an investment and it will ultimately save you on a lot more time later down the road.
I know this is a topic that isn’t talked about a lot in the handmade space, but if you looking to start the process of hiring additional help and need some extra help with it, head over to https://www.creativehiveco.com/consulting/ and we can book a session and talk more then.
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