Management by remote control

In todays world of virtual reality it is no longer necessary to be physically present to run your business. With the tremendous progress we have seen over recent years in the area of technology, your virtual presence is all that is required in your virtual office.

This has been conclusively proven by Don Lisle, owner of Professional Movers, who runs his business in New Zealand by remote control from Melbourne, over the Internet.

Less than two years ago, before Lisle cottoned on to the benefits of technology, his life was in shambles. He was spending around 100 hours a week managing his furniture removal business.

I was running myself ragged. I visited people physically to give them quotes, I drove the trucks myself, and I handled the pay-roll manually. With three phones ringing day and night, I was constantly taking calls and I was mentally as well as physically bowed down from carrying around a diary that weighed almost five kilograms  not to mention the effect that all this stress had on my health, he says.

But the very worst aspect of all was that Lisle was separated from his family. This sorry state of affairs was due to the fact that his wife Joulia, a medical doctor, had not been able to find a job in New Zealand and had taken up an offer in Australia. Born in Russia, and having obtained her qualifications in that country, in order to be accepted into the health system in Australasia she was required to complete a bridging course. An opportunity arose in Adelaide for her to study towards her diploma in public health so that she could practise her profession. 

This was a golden opportunity for her, says Lisle, and not one she could afford tog. Like his wife he did not want to chuck in what he had worked for all his life.

It would have broken my heart, he says, to sell my business and see someone benefit from all Id put into it. 

It was more or less at the time that Joulia had to make her decision that Lisles sacrifices for his business were beginning to pay off. So there was no alternative but for the couple to live in two different geographical locations.


Problem solved

At first the daughters stayed on in New Zealand but soon they left to be with mum. So there they were  a family in crisis. Joulia was enjoying her work in Australia but missing her husband and Lisle, all alone in New Zealand, was working himself to a stand-still. 

Finally, in October 2004, at the end of his tether, he approached Action International business coach, Cherry Vanderbeke to help him get his life back on track. That was the turning point  both for the company and for the family. Following Vanderbekes advice, Lisle took a series of dramatic steps to improve his situation.

To start with he and his staff of 14 gained an appreciation of what technology could do for the business. They had a web-based management system custom-built by Auckland company Vertex Solutions - developed specifically for quotes, bookings, despatch, invoicing, credit control and the overall monitoring of operations. Both databases, one for commercial customers and the other for domestic customers, went onto the Internet.

The truck drivers learnt how to download their jobs for the day and the trucks were equipped for monitoring by means of GPS technology. A physical office was dispensed with and the business became a paperless one with everything recorded on the Internet. A positive spin-off of this, says Lisle, is that he has records of all his transactions for the past seven years, making it easy to comply with the requirements of Inland Revenue.

Improvements of a non-technical nature were also introduced, such as a training manual, position contracts, social events and regular meetings, along with a remuneration system and incentives for the staff in the form of assistance to set up their own businesses for work well done.

With the business humming along smoothly and greater efficiencies leveraged, the number of trucks grew from four to seven, turnover shot up and all concerned on this side of the ditch were smiling.

But best of all, now that the business was no longer dependant on Lisles physical presence, he was able to join his family and soon some people on the other side of the ditch were smiling too.

Today, his business and personal life transformed, Don spends only 15 hours working on his business as opposed to in his business  in keeping with the well-known slogan.

In fact, he has so much time on his hands that he is now setting up an identical Professional Movers operation in Melbourne.

My clients absolutely love the way we work and so do my highly motivated team. They proudly tell all who care to hear that the boutique business they work for is run from another country!     NZB


Carlene du Toit is an Auckland-based freelance writer.

Email carlene250@clear.net.nz

 pass up. You dont study that long only to throw it all away. 

The downside of these strokes of good luck was that Lisle was in no position to go with his wife. He, too, had done the hard yards to get his business up and runnin


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