The world of administrative assistance has long been one of proximity and presence: secretaries, admins, and personal assistants sitting outside an executive's office, guarding the calendar like watchdogs and taking dictation from 8 in the morning until 5 at night. But try to envision a model where you live in, say, San Francisco, but your assistant is at home in Cleveland.
Atlanta-based eaHELP exists to create that environment. With no central office and no physical headquarters, eaHELP served church clients using staff working out of their homes. The company started providing virtual executives to pastors, ministers, and other church staff.
Cofounder Bryan Miles and his wife, also chief operating officer (COO) of the business, were inundated with requests for new business from for-profit companies during this time.
"By the middle of 2011, we had tons of businesses approach us and say, 'hey, because you work with churches and pastors, we'd like to hire you,'" said Miles. "We thought, 'well, we're being stupid [in turning down this business]' and so since then, it's literally like riding a rocket. Our company had a massive year last year - a 300% increase in sales," he says. eaHELP now serves customers in 40 states and 4 countries, with 133 people in the company, including over 100 virtual assistants working all over the globe.
Technology has really been at the forefront of the eaHELP business model. "We could not have this business a decade ago," says Miles. "We are able to do what we do because technology has soared. It's really enabled us to be very well connected with our teams, but yet be able to let people have the opportunity to work from their house."
The Tech Behind the Business
eaHELP makes heavy use of consumer technologies to connect with clients and employees. "We use DropBox religiously," says Miles, "and we run all of our websites and their e-mails and whatnot through Google Apps, including Gmail, the calendar, and Drive, where needed." Miles also says his company uses Adobe Connect for face-to-face videoconferencing and team meetings, and HootSuite for scheduling and assigning social media interactions on channels like Twitter and Facebook.
For eaHELP, Facebook is more than just a public website. The social media network actually powers a huge part of the organization's collaboration internally.
"We leverage Facebook like crazy internally," says Miles. "We have private groups - there are groups that, for example, include all of the executive assistants currently working for our organization. They have access to the eaHELP EA Facebook closed page so they can collaborate with each other." And they frequently do, he says. "It's like this huge administrative assistant 'brain,' so someone will say, 'hey, I need a limo service in Atlanta,' and five minutes later, there will be three responses [from others] with phone numbers and websites."
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