Inside the main office of the Strawberry Bluff Farm and Dairy, Leigh pinched the bridge of her nose and squeezed her eyes shut. She leaned back and sighed. She looked out across the rolling green fields dotted with the figures of 250 dairy goats and down at the stack of orders strewn on her desk.
Her husband, Kip, walked in and stopped short when he saw her. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t do this anymore. Between the website, the catalog, our regular clients, and now the soap products, I can’t keep up with the orders. I mean, it’s great we’re so busy and all, and our inventory is fine, but I can’t do the things I need to in the cheese kitchen or with the milk-soap makers. All I do is take orders! Something has got to give.”
“Let’s hire some help,” Kip suggested.
“It’s one thing to hire help for production, but I don’t want outsiders representing us to the public. We’re an artisanal family business, and that’s what makes us special. If we expand, then we’ll be just like everybody else and lose our distinctiveness.” She paused and sighed again. “But, if I don’t get back to cheese production and soap supervision soon, then we lose anyway.”
“Do you want to drop the milk-soap line? Though it’s starting to take off, we can shut it down if it’s too much,” Kip replied.
“No. Everyone is so excited about it. I get calls every day from people who have just heard about it from friends. One call came from a woman 500 miles away whose sister was raving about it.”
Kip frowned. Leigh was a sharp businessperson, and he was proud of the business they had built together selling artisanal cheeses to gourmets and restaurants across the country. Kip knew his own skills were strongest in animal husbandry; their herd was among the best. Their specialty cheeses had even won national awards. “We’ll think of something,” he said. “Why don’t we call it a night and talk more in the morning?”
The next day, Kip called a telephone answering service, hoping they could offer some suggestions. In little time, the Dairy’s telephone order line was re-routed to the answering service, along with the orders placed online. In addition, the service also began answering the dairy’s main business line, sending text messages of urgent calls to Leigh and Kip on their smart phones, and batching the rest in an end-of-the day report sent via email. All this would be handled by the answering services professionally trained staff.
Three weeks later, Kip found Leigh happily at work in one of the kitchens. She looked up and smiled, “Kip, you’re a genius. Orders have been rolling in, everything is manageable, and I’m enjoying work again!”
Kip smiled. He wasn’t too bad as a businessman himself.
Drew Ritter is the Owner/President of Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc.