In 2000, Bruce Strom founded Administer Justice, a legal service provider that helps low-income individuals who cannot afford attorneys navigate the complexities of our legal system and find the help they need in everyday legal issues.
Its vision is to launch 1,000 Gospel Justice Centers transforming lives in the name of Christ, while currently located in 76 churches across 14 different states.
“Late last year, [I discovered] I was working ridiculous hours as the CEO,” Bruce explains. “We’d been growing a lot. We added about four to five locations a month now, and that requires a lot of fundraising.”
“A lot of my work is fundraising and development, and that means meeting with a lot of people — meeting with a lot of very busy people – [including] a lot of calendar management that just takes an unbelievable amount of time.”
“I was having difficulty doing that and moving everything forward. I was working way too many hours, which was not healthy and was not going to allow us to truly grow as I believe the Lord wanted us to.”
Enter BELAY Virtual Assistant Tina Swafford.
“[Our Client Success Coordinator] really stressed the importance of frequent communication, and that’s something we’ve both been really committed to,” Tina says.
“Not only do we have our weekly one-on-ones – and we always stick to that – but then also in the beginning I would add things to the calendar, and we realized that it would be helpful for us to do a daily check-in.”
“And so I, every morning, kind of give him a rundown of what we’ve got going on, and then he’ll tell me anything that I can help out with that or any major things that he’s working on throughout the day.”
The frequent communication between Bruce and Tina helps them keep a steady workflow and has led to a strong trust between them.
“[Tina] is an extension of me and even early on when we had conversations, it became critically important that there was a high level of trust because she literally represents me to the outside world,” Bruce says.
“It’s just so important that I have someone I can trust.”
“It’s very difficult sometimes for leaders to build trust,” Tina admits. “It’s scary to let go of the reins. Usually, you’re passionate about whatever business or organization you’re leading, and you don’t want to let go of all those things that kind of keep things running the way they’re supposed to.”
“And Bruce was very good early on [that] if he sent things to me, he trusted that I was going to take care of it, and [it] was my responsibility to make sure that I maintained that trust for him.”
“It was very helpful to me in the beginning that [Bruce] was trusting and had faith in the process.”
The speed at which Tina quickly came on board, started to learn Bruce and Administer Justice, and began to proactively contribute and move things forward for him was a pleasant surprise for Bruce.
“I’m used to things being a little slower in the ramp up, but I think [that] the strong foundation that BELAY goes through in partnering, making a right culture fit, and then just the good communication pieces that were [established] early on [has led to] the speed at which we’ve been able to really hit the ground running effectively and efficiently,” Bruce adds.
“Any CEO or any leader really needs to not only have a Virtual Assistant but [also] let go of the things that [they’re] not good at,” Bruce says.
“Lean into the things that you are good at and allow someone else to use their gifts to help move things forward – and that's what Tina does. She is excellent at administrative matters that I am not excellent at. And I’m deeply, deeply grateful for her.”
With Bruce gaining the right support from Tina, he has gained freedom in many areas of his life.
“Sometimes, leaders take too much on themselves,” Bruce says. “That’s a very common thing. I just took a vacation with my family, and honestly, I went and never even looked at anything.”
“I didn’t look at email because I knew it was all handled. I didn’t look at any appointments or issues because I knew that [Tina] would troubleshoot them and take care of them.”
“I literally could have a vacation without concern, without worry, without returning from it and being overwhelmed, almost wishing I hadn’t taken a vacation. And that’s when you know that you have a great team partnership. Because when I returned, we hit the ground running – didn’t miss a beat – and it was so beautiful.”