A recent post at SOHO-Life was about telling your (global) audience about your business in global terms.
Today, my daughter and I have been trying to fax a horse stud in South Africa. She’s booked to go there for a working holiday but is having no success with responses to recent emails. The owners may have been away on leave but there are no autoresponders to let people know that. We tried faxing this morning our time and the first time the phone just rang and rang. The second time the answer machine answered but at no time did the fax kick in. They have a shared telephone/fax line.
We looked up their time difference at World Clock because we thought they might have the fax switched off at night-time and found that it was 1.45am their time, so elected to wait another 7 hours till it was 9am their time. Then we tried constantly for the next 2 hours to get a fax through – to a continually engaged line. Perhaps they also use it for the internet, which isn’t much use to us if they’re not answering emails either.
This is very frustrating, to say the least, and I can’t help but wonder how seriously they take their business, especially when promoting to a global audience. Further, on their website and their forms, they don’t even indicate what their country code is but I’m fairly sure we’ve found the right one – all the same, it would be nice to know that it is right.
As a VA, do you promote your business on a global basis or are you only thinking locally? I see many VAs wanting to get virtual work and they forget that they can go out and network locally. But what about the promotion of their business? Is it a local focus or a global one? Often I find that their focus for getting work is global (they forget the local part of it) but their promtional activities seem to focus on local aspects, especially with respect to contact details.
- Save your visitors some trouble and give them the full information, i.e. +27 and then the rest of the number. Make sure you also include your country when listing your postal address – not everyone knows where or what Vic is for example.
- If you go away on leave set up an autoresponder for your emails so that people know why you’re not answering, and put a message on your answer machine or voicemail. Or, better still, divert to another VA to handle things whilst you’re away.
- Don’t switch off your fax machine at night time – people from overseas aren’t always going to know what time it is where you are before they attempt to fax you. This is a good reason for having a line separate from your house phone, so you’re not woken during the night. You might want to only work during business hours but those contacting you are doing so in their business hours.
- If you share the same line for phone, fax and internet, restrict your online time to 2 or 3 times a day, in shortened periods so people can get through.
A well known networking guru in Australia tells her audience to ‘think local, act global’ and what I’ve outlined above gives a very good reason for that.
So, if you’re running a business where you are wanting to attract global interest and contact, don’t make it hard for them to contact you or know how to get hold of you. In the meantime, we’ll keep trying as we do need to get hold of these people. KMT
Addendum:Â One of my team members in SA saw my blogpost and contacted me, asking how she could help – this was really appreciated. She rang the people for me and it turned out there was a number of things working against my daughter and I.Â There had been electrical problems due to storms.Â The ladyâ€™s fax was broken.Â Their main email address wasnâ€™t working.Â Fridays are often not a good day to contact businesses in that country as many pack up after 11am and donâ€™t come back on duty till the following Monday. I was then contacted and advised of a second email address I could contact them on.Â All I can say is that perhaps they could have let people know on their website – but perhaps they didnâ€™t have access to that either, who knows?