Like many small business owners, you may have considered hiring an office manager (OM) but you’re not sure you need one. After all, hiring an additional staff member means squeezing another salary out of an already tight budget. Even if you think you can do most of the tasks you’d give an OM, adding one to your staff can increase profits and boost your bottom line.
An office manager will relieve you of tedious and time-consuming tasks and leaves you to focus on developing your business. The OM can streamline duties and this helps improve efficiency, boost productivity, and can establish policies and procedures that ensure consistency and save time.
If you’re still not sure it’s the right time to hire an office manager, ask yourself if you’re experiencing any of the five challenges we’ve outline below. If so, hiring an office manager might be a profitable business move.
1. You don’t have enough time.
Do you find yourself consumed with administrative tasks and never have enough time to focus on growing your business? If you spend more than 25 percent of your day completing tasks that an office manager would handle, it’s likely time to hire one.
2. Cash flow is a disaster
Are your bills consistently paid late? Do you have a hard time making payroll? Do clients or customers owe you money but you don’t have the time or the processes in place to collect it? If your accounts receivable and accounts payable systems are broken, every aspect of your business suffers. An office manager can create standard operating procedures that get cash flowing.<
3. Customer service is failing
Have you been hearing more customer complaints then you’re accustomed to? Are you losing customers to the competition? It may be because your office lacks the organization and efficiency an office manager provides and customer service is taking a hit.
4. Policies aren’t enforced or aren’t even in place
Even the smallest of businesses require policies and procedures. Without them, employees make up their own rules and that’s not good for business. An office manager will establish policies and procedures that ensure consistency and maximize efficiency.
5. Employee morale is low
If your staff seems unhappy, it could be that they are getting tired of the problems that result when you lack an office manager. Late payroll, copiers that are always needing service calls, files that can’t be located, and an empty snack machine are all “minor” annoyances that can exhaust employee morale over time.
What to Look for in an Office Manager
Once you decide it’s time to hire an office manager, you must decide what qualities to look for.
Avoid the “bump up”
Just because Susan is an excellent customer service rep doesn’t mean she is office manager material. In fact, the odds are she isn’t. Also, when you “bump up” an employee (promote from within), it is often difficult for her to gain respect from her former co-workers. In most cases, hiring an office manager from outside your organization is the best move.
Seek soft skills
Of course your office manager must have the “hard skills” to perform everyday office management tasks, but don’t underestimate the power of their “soft skills.” Soft skills refer to emotional intelligence, like how they relate to others, deal with conflict, and a whole assortment of interpersonal traits.
They must buy-in
If your office manager is going to be a leader in your business, he or she must have “buy-in.” This means he or she must believe in your business, its products or services, and be committed to working toward established company goals. Your office manager should be your company’s loudest cheerleader. Giving authority to an office manager who doesn’t have buy-in will negatively affect the morale of your business.
An office manager can turn a chaotic office into a professional one that offers your business the best chance to prosper. If you’re a small business owner who struggles with some of the challenges we’ve discussed, it’s time you invested in an office manager.