Team Tots! Managing a remote team is a team effort!

One of the (many) challenges that we face with our fast growing and increasingly international family travel business is how we train and communicate with our team of remote workers without losing the essence of what makes our business different and special.

Our safe, genuinely family friendly holiday cottages and villas are inspected by my team of mums to make sure that they are somewhere that you would actually want to take your small children.  Scaling this core belief up has been a challenge!  In the early days I darted around Europe myself, visiting houses, talking to houseowners and conducting risk analysis surveys but it quickly became clear that this limited our growth potential.
wendy shand remote working

Building up a team
The next step was to build up a team of British mums – based in the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal – who are trained by us to vet the properties.  We now have 20 ladies based all over Europe.  With the exception of our two day training programme, we seldom meet but we work hard and have sytems in place to make sure that we’re all on the same bus. The next step is to put in place an ongoing training and mentoring programme for all our existing agents.  Our approach has evolved over time and we need to be better at sharing these changes.  For example I have filmed a sales package using my Flip which I intend to use as part of this ongoing training along with webinars and teleconferencing.  All this needs to be automated so that our team can do at their own pace.

Providing the tools
Recently we have implemented an automated online training package that follows on from the two days spent here in the UK.  This has helped to ensure that each team member maintains their momentum and gets off to a flying start.  Within this package there are tasks, support emails, telephone calls and mentoring teleconferences to back up their initial training.  So far this has been a great success.

Middle Managing
Since our team is now quite big, we have appointed a team leader.  Penny is based in the Charente region of France and it is her job to recruit, support and co-ordinate the team.  We use an online package called Assembla which helps us with tasking, acts as a portal for all our documents and is vital to keeping track of what everybody is up to.

Keeping in Touch
The team mostly communicate via our Yahoo forum.  Here they can post their experiences, ask questions, feel supported and feel part of something bigger and more exciting.  It is also an opportunity for us to share information with the team, press news, award announcements, new ideas and so on.  This is a buzzy little world!  Email is also really important and I’m still a big fan of picking up the phone.  We are increasingly using teleconferencing and I see that we will do this more and more as we grow.

People Power
Without doubt recruiting the right people in the first place is key.  We need people who are self starters and have the get up and go to get involved!  For our part, we profile better, recruit better, train better and have the systems in place to make it work.  All in all, we’re getting better!

We still have plenty to do and I’d love to hear how other business owners manage their remote teams!  Do post a comment and perhaps we can learn together?

Warm regards

Wendy

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