As the President and COO, Will Parsley’s third-generation, family-owned-and-operated Carswell Distributing Company supplies dealers with consumer and commercial lawn and garden equipment and home heating appliances.
Additionally, Carswell supports its dealers with sales programs, marketing initiatives, and technical support.
There was a time when Will admits that he thought assistants were for ‘incredibly successful’ business owners with a ‘bathroom in [their] office.’
But office bathroom or not, Will was starting to drown in email. To hear him explain it, he wasn’t the kind of executive who could function ‘outside of [his] email’ for four or five hours.
His inbox is always full of time-sensitive email requiring him to make a decision or provide guidance on a particular roadblock or obstacle.
The result? An inbox with over 11,000 emails, all demanding his attention – but never enough hours in the day to organize and reply to all of them.
And further compounding the demands on Will’s time is his growing family as his wife expects their fifth child.
Enter: BELAY Virtual Assistant Lisa Speir.
She developed a system where instead of tackling emails as they come in, she takes ownership of all emails three days old and beyond to keep Will’s inbox under a hundred emails and make sure nothing gets missed.
Lisa also handles Will’s travel arrangements, calendar, and now, some ‘personal stuff.’ He never thought he’d have an assistant help with personal things, but it’s been great. He likes the fact she is not in the office, “hanging out at the water cooler”. He trusts her completely but the fact she can’t even be tempted to share personal information with his staff is appreciated.
“It wasn’t really part of the value proposition … but then people have very much appreciated [my] response time,” Will says. He is able to be fully present now when meeting with his staff. “It’s even gotten to the point – though this doesn’t happen a lot – that occasionally, my wife emails her and says, ‘Do you think you could move the ball on this thing?’”
It really does take a village.
But then, the unexpected: a pandemic.
Lisa and Will had established their rhythm and then COVID-19 caused them – and the rest of the world – to pivot.
So where once Lisa’s day-to-day responsibilities included setting up meetings, managing meeting agendas, managing meeting follow-up, and managing arrangements for all the places Will needed to travel, those tasks became quickly irrelevant.
So she and Will set out to reevaluate her role as Will admits to being ‘too invested’ to terminate their partnership.
Now, Lisa has assumed more responsibility for project management, particularly those they started together.
“We’re opening a warehouse in Florida and [Lisa] has put more time into opening that warehouse than I have,” Will says. “We needed a job description for a forklift driver – we’ve never made a job description for a forklift driver because every forklift driver we have has been here since I started working at the company.”
And – unsurprisingly – Lisa delivered.
“[Lisa] said, ‘One of my best friends is in HR. I’ll reach out and see how they do that.’” Will explains. “At the time, our HR manager was a little busy with COVID, so we needed that capacity.”
Will has reclaimed some of the elusive time he was missing while buried under that email mountain. And with a new little bundle on the way, the timing couldn’t have been better.
“If five hours a week, she’s going to do this, and five hours a week, she’s going to do that, and another five hours a week, she’s going to do this, then that’s 15 hours I suddenly have available,” says Will.
And that’s just at work.
“I love the fact that Lisa works on personal stuff for me,” Will says. “Whether that be a family budget or filing a warranty on the kid’s trampoline, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh. There’s this thing that has to be taken care of.’ And that is so fantastic.”