Jason and Tashara Pond own Grizzly Broadband, a 20-year-old parent technology and internet service company, which includes Cybernet1 and Hamilton Computer Service in Montana.
In acquiring the business two years ago, they also acquired a veteran staff of 16 employees. Their mission is to bring excellent customer service by virtue of best-in-class technology to their customers.
As an internet service provider with a computer store and repair shop, 99 percent of their staff is local and has been together for many years. Jason was understandably concerned about how the existing staff would feel about virtual colleagues.
Further, he worried that it would look like he was creating a barrier between him and his small staff who had always had access to him.
However, he needed someone to take over his calendar and email as staring down hundreds of emails caused undue stress and resulted in him working long hours while trying to accommodate family time in the evenings.
Still unsure about virtual employees, Jason and Tashara decided to hire locally. Though it ultimately proved to not be the right fit, Jason had grown accustomed to having someone manage his email and calendar.
After careful research and thoughtful deliberation, Jason hired a BELAY Virtual Assistant.
He started a regular meeting cadence with Penny and added her to their Slack channel so that they could communicate throughout the day. He handed over his email and calendar, explaining, “She was able to do things with my calendar quickly that I didn’t even know how to do. So that worked out well!”
He also included her in their monthly staff meetings – which she and Jason now run.
Now, everyone knows Penny, how to reach her and that she is the fastest way to get on Jason’s calendar.
They have gotten into such a great rhythm that now Penny is responsible for tasks beyond Jason’s calendar and email.
One of their biggest wins? The ability for Jason to get a new hire or new job applicants through the door – something Jason hates doing.
“Before when I’ve hired people, I’ve been a little bit picky – I may get one or two people to actually interview out of 50 applicants. I’m also slow to respond.
“[But] she handles all the responses and the applicants feel engaged because they’re getting an immediate response. We’re now on our second round of interviews and we’re making big progress with it – and it’s all because of the work Penny’s done.”
But Jason’s biggest win of all? He’s home in time for dinner every night with his family.