What would you give to have more time to yourself? What would you give to have a personal assistant with a smile, business savvy, and the ability to make your life easier? The stars all have answers for what they would do, but us average people usually try to cram it all into one day. We know we need help with our cleaning, errand running, and business activities, but do you know where to get it? Well, I have found the answer in two beautiful bubbly young ladies right here in Greensboro, NC. Let me introduce Paula & Leigh Anne of YouTime Solutions.
I met Paula in January at a Tax seminar. We happened to be sitting right next to each and shared a great conversation. I had heard about her business but never met the face behind the well oiled machine. So, what makes YouTime Solutions unique? In my opinion its location and the wide array of services that they offer, but moreover, the personality and passion for being a better business is what made me interested. Paula and Leigh Anne expressed the long road that has taken them from near poverty to being a sought after enterprise. I am always intrigued by the big moment that changed everything.
How You Started
Paula’s grandmother gave her the idea to start a company that allowed her to be a freelance assistant to various people. That one conversation made Paula look at a model that focused on the idea of a personal concierge, She struggled in 2007 by h2008 she found business partner Leigh Anne, who wanted to start a business like this and tried different career paths where the ceiling had been reached. Once they met it was evident that Paula needed a person to bounce ideas to bounce off of. Leigh Anne came from a family of entrepreneurs which helped her in making great suggestions for the business, whereas Paula had no entrepreneurs in her family and had been a waitress while starting this business.
Summer of Squash
Jump forward to Spring 2009 Paula was waiting tables part-time and doing YTS part-time and Leigh Anne had a full-time job and did YTS part-time. Then the fateful day came when Paula lost her job on Valentine’s Day weekend and then two months later Leigh Anne lost her job too. At this time, neither of them received unemployment, they did not have any savings, no 401 K’s or financial security. But perseverance brought them through when they both decided to put all their efforts into making YouTime Solutions a career and not a hobby. They were literally able to survive through the kindness of their clients who coincidentally all grew squash, and that is how they lived for three months.
The Show Up Moment
After all the adversity there has to be a silver lining and of course this story has one. The Show Up moment came when the ladies met one client who connected them to the Women’s Professional network. Leigh Ann said, Our client understood the “power” of network referral”. We threw all of our efforts into building our relationships. At some point the pieces come together and you make the system work for you and your business.
We grew exponentially after doing a Living Social Deal in December 2010. We sold 307 deals and have had a rate of return of about 50-77 clients. By December 2011 we had about four times more clients. The Living Social deal enabled the ladies to cover their operational costs. Using Living Social was a great experience but the retention of customers is an issue with many who use online coupon deals. The ladies advised that they do not give out the email addresses and contact information of the purchasers of your deal. They were able to leverage connections by capturing the information when clients call. This system enabled retention that allowed YTS to contact clients via email, newsletters, and social media outlets. After appointments they also made follow-up calls and kept in contact with them to ensure return customers.
The ladies advised they are changing their business model to transition from hourly employees to a group approved contractors who we can rely on to be dispatched when we have a service request. The hourly employees can now turn into the contractors.
Paula stated, “We are making the transition to facilitate our growth. We have been in a position where we had to turn down work because the growth was so rapid. We want something that is more readily available for volume to be able to handle the clientele without creating a situation where people do not have work.” This improved model will work better for those that need part-time areas.
Leigh Anne advised, “We are interested in starting a branch in Raleigh and one in Charlotte. We can then dispatch from Greensboro and have contractors that are already in these areas”. This will work the best for self-employed, stay at home moms and college students, retirees, and those looking for a secondary income.
We have had interns for the last two years and have been able to show people what business is really like. Leigh Anne said, “It’s not what you see on TV, it’s not just Donald Trump, but its real life”. We have usually had two interns at a time per semester. In the past we had interns to do marketing research and development of a networking calendar. Looking forward, we want to bring on a market research intern that looks for market trends nationwide and aid in forecasting. We are also looking for someone to help with sales, marketing calendar, and implementation of new programs.
Tools Used by YouTime Solutions
We use Freshbooks for invoicing members and allow them to track their account and membership hours. Capsule is a CRM and management tool that integrates with Freshbooks and our Email Database of MailChimp, which allows us to store data on clients. It allows us to keep notes on the client and see what contact has been made with a client, opportunities, leads, and important information that a client wants us to know. For example, if a client has a special request, doesn’t like a fragrance, has pets, etc. This allows us keep track of customer management and be as efficient as possible.
Social Media Marketing
Our main management tool for social media is Hootsuite. We reach a different market on Twitter than on Facebook. Business Owners are typically on Twitter and Stay at home mom clients are on Facebook. We also have online listings at Thumbtack.com, Yelp, and have joined a Meetup.com group called Broads who Tweet. The largest growth for our company has been being a part of Broads Who Tweet. This has been one of the best groups because they believe in real networking and they help to promote through social media.
“Time is a Currency”
Now our biggest challenge is to take our own advice by adding new staff so that we can grow. We need to make more time to work on the business instead of in the business. Now we have too many clients and we need to stay away from the temptation to do the work ourselves. We need to delegate to the staff so that we can be “business owners”!
I love these ladies and I am so happy for their success. They prove that tenacity and the desire to be successful paired with a clear business plan can be an awesome combination. They really know how to Show Up & Show Out!
Where to Find YouTime Solutions
Chisa D. Pennix-Brown, MBA
Lady Bizness, Inc. CEO