Virtually Speaking

As a part-time Asst Band Director, I have used a variety of technologies to help in organizing, moderating, maintaining and promoting the program I am connected with and am contemplating a business/service to provide some of these for other band directors or teachers who either lack the technical experience, the desire, or the TIME to do them.

I have used Access to create a data base of band members where I can track additional information from what the school collects, Excel for anything from music library to organizing shirt sizes, listing Disney deposits and band member account balances, Google Calendars to merge the band calendar with the winter activities calendar and post those on the band’s WordPress Blog. I use Powerpoint for announcements in the bandroom, Publisher to print some encouragement notes/cards, One Note to organize meeting notes,  SmartMusic for teaching private lessons, making practice assignments, mp3’s and CD’s, Finale for music notation, Skype for some remote music lessons, YouTube for posting music and recordings of marching band rehearsals and performances, Facebook to communicate with parents and students, Twitter to set up a non-yet-implemented way to send out emergency tweets to students and parents when the band is on the road, for example,  Vertical Response for some email blasting and probably some others I’m not even thinking of at the moment. Currently I’m learning some software for helping Digitize Media, i.e. record LP records, clean up the scratches and pops, make tracks and put on CD’s or DVD’s.

I was actually contemplating a marketing campaign to band directors and teachers as their “BACK OFFICE” specialist from my “HOME OFFICE”, where my Internet speed is so much better than at my PROFESSIONAL OFFICE

I was disappointed, but should not have been surprised,  when I discovered that such an industry already exists; not for precisely what I was thinking about, but remote service providers in a variety of businesses.

A former fundraising distributor customer used a new (to me) term when I asked what he was doing now that he was out of fundraising. He said he was still running business from his VIRTUAL OFFICE!

I did a little research on FRONT, BACK and VIRTUAL office. My conclusion is that there is no single definition. Traditionally, the FRONT OFFICE is where management was, but I found an investment company, fimarkets.com,  where the Front Office deals with customers, the Middle Office (another new term for me) handles transactions and the Back Office includes statistical monitoring and accounting.

Most descriptions of MIDDLE OFFICE seemed related to financial or investment companies, but some corporate structures considered sales management and telesales to be in the middle. In that setting the Front Office management tells the Middle Office what to sell and the Back Office takes care of the technical logistics.

The BACK OFFICE in larger companies is typically where TECH SUPPORT and IT are located. That does fit part of what I was working on, so I may still use that.

Of course, the HOME OFFICE is where sales people, like myself, catch up on paperwork after a day on the road or at the professional office. But why be tied down at home? With cellular devices, wi-fi, blue-tooth, laptops, netbooks, cloud computing, etc…. where you can do much, most or nearly all of your office work anywhere …. in your VIRTUAL OFFICE.

Driving time can now be profitable phone time. Lawyers hire drivers because they can bill out more in legal fees by being on the phone when in transit than it costs to pay the driver. We all can now make lists of calls to make or return while we travel (watch out for those new rules popping up about driving and cell phone use). Of course, your customers are also on the road. You too have probably been in conversations when the customer suddenly cuts you off with, “Hold on just a second…… ‘I’ll take a #3 with large fries and a diet coke….ok…..thank you’….. Ok, I’m back.”  When my wife and I call each other, the first issue is usually, “Where are you?”

And a whole new industry to help support those remote workers as well as to provide specific or specialized services … is the VIRTUAL ASSISTANT.

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