I recently did a test run of what I envisioned would be an option once I was working for myself. These days with technology, you can work anywhere and your clients don’t know if you’re in your home office or Timbuktu. So, I spent a long weekend visiting my daughter and son-in-law in Salt Lake City.
First part of the test involved the computer. At home, I use a desktop, so I took both a small laptop and a tablet for the experiment. The tablet was fine for a quick check of email, but not great to do anything more, so I know it will have to be a full size laptop in the future. The next thing I missed was my bookmarked travel sites that I use on a regular basis. Do I copy them, or use this as a brain exercise to remember my favorite suppliers? Then came my user name and password for all of these sites. I’ve never counted but I’m sure it’s in the hundreds; and I dream of the day that I can use the same name across all sites. I’m going to investigate password managers because it’s a necessity over sticky notes!
The telephone is not the major form of communication I have with my clients, but there are times when nothing beats a conversation – whether it’s the initial consultation, a welcome home, or just a ‘how are you doing’ call. In some cases, the cell phone is fine but this time I used Sykpe. For a minimal cost I can call clients and the call quality is very good, especially if I use a microphone/head phone. For incoming calls, right now I have two options: One is have calls go straight to voice mail, and then I get an email with the message. The problem with this is sometimes people don’t want to leave a message. The second is I can forward my calls to my travel partner, who will then email the message.
The toughest part is the papers and files. I use ClientBase Online for my CRM. I realized that I have to use this exclusively if I want to have a thorough record of all communication with my clients. This will take a concentrated effort to get in the habit of typing rather than writing on a paper file.
A year and a half ago when I became an independent agent, I dreamed of getting out of Calgary during our cold Januarys. I imagined myself in Auckland or Cape Town, two cities I’ve visited and would enjoy being there to ‘live the life.’ But, now that I’m a Granny to one (and two more on the way), those international destinations will have to wait!
All in all, I think it can work. It will take some time, commitment, and the acquisition of some technology. I know many of you do work completely remotely—what are your tips? Please help me out a bit and leave a suggestion!
Melanie Hersom is an independent consultant with Tier One Travel in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She believes in providing Personalized Vacations and Exotic Adventures. Melanie loves spending time with her granddaughter and looks forward the birth of two more grandchildren this year. “I don’t want to go anywhere twice until I’ve been everywhere once.”