A Family Business Client Success Story: Protoblast

Ben Noble is an expert in abrasive blasting solutions and has been a third generation member of the family business at Protoblast for over 18 years. 

Protoblast is a leading Australian manufacturer who have been providing superior solutions to the surface preparation industry for more than 40 years. Their in-house custom designed and built abrasive blasting systems are tailored to meet their client’s individual needs to provide the most operationally efficient solution for their business.

The Challenge

“We were a small family business doing everything ourselves; sales, operations, administration, etc.,” Ben recalls. 

“We had brought on an admin support who we tried to train in our marketing efforts; however, they lacked the drive and skills we needed for this role. We had initially heard of Virtual Elves through our business coach who knew Kristy and the Virtual Assistant (VA) services they offered.”

Transitioning from managing all aspects of the business single-handedly to seeking external assistance was a pivotal moment for Ben and his family business.

“As we did not have the budget to bring on any full-time staff here in Australia, this (a Virtual Elves VA) was a great suggestion.”

Overcoming Initial Hesitations

Ben’s initial apprehensions about hiring a VA stemmed from concerns about potential language barriers, time zone differences, and the daunting prospect of entrusting critical tasks to someone outside the company. 

“I had my doubts about whether a virtual assistant could truly understand our family business needs and seamlessly integrate into our operations,” Ben reflects. 

However, as he delved deeper into the process and witnessed the seamless integration of Virtual Elves into Protoblast’s operations, those apprehensions gradually dissipated. 

“I was pleasantly surprised by the professionalism and dedication of our virtual assistant.” Ben admits. 

What began as a leap of faith evolved into a strategic decision that not only alleviated the burden of mundane tasks but also empowered Ben to focus on strategic sales initiatives and business growth. This transformation emphasises the power of embracing virtual assistance.

Enter Virtual Elves VA Geraldine.

The Solution

“Initially, we had a VA Geraldine who was great but had to move on due to personal circumstances,” Ben explains.

Sometimes life happens and that’s the honest truth.

“We were a little worried that we would have to train another VA; however, Jae (our current VA) had already supported us with a few projects and was up and running within a week!”

With Jae’s rapid assimilation into their operations, the transition was smoother than anticipated, allowing Protoblast to maintain its momentum without skipping a beat.

The Result

“We have noticed the biggest difference with Jae implementing ongoing marketing efforts within our business,” Ben highlights. 

With Jae’s strategic approach to marketing, Protoblast experienced a significant uptick in their family business, marking a transformative period for the company. 

“In fact, we have been blown away and would even say our business has doubled”

“In the past, we used to only market when our sales and project numbers were low, then we’d get busy and cease marketing.” 

The shift from sporadic marketing efforts to a consistent and targeted approach has led to tangible results, reinforcing the impact of having a dedicated virtual assistant like Jae.

“It was a constant up and down; now, thanks to Jae’s efforts, we have a steady flow!”

The Everyday

“Our business often involves taking on big projects, which also means our sales processes can take up to two years,” Ben elaborates. 

Jae’s ability to provide a fresh perspective and identify areas for improvement has been instrumental in refining Protoblast’s sales strategy and streamlining their processes.

“Jae has been incredible at being a ‘fresh set of eyes’ regarding our sales, always suggesting innovative ideas where we can improve upon our processes, making deals close faster. Even though Jae had never worked for a business within our industry before, she picked it up extremely quickly!”

Ben’s acknowledgment of Jae’s adaptability and keen insights underscores the value of having a virtual assistant who can quickly grasp the nuances of multiple industries. 

The Transformation

“I always thought I would need to keep a VA accountable, but it’s been the other way around,” Ben reflects. 

Ben’s experience highlights the paradigm shift in his role, where he now relies on Jae to keep him accountable and on track with his responsibilities.

“Jae will put reminders in my calendar for events, due dates for projects, to create content, and keep me on top of our sales processes. She goes above and beyond at providing consistent sales support and marketing.”

This newfound dynamic not only fosters greater efficiency but also accentuates the collaborative nature of their working relationship.

Ben's Advice

Ben’s journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of embracing virtual assistance.

“Our initial doubts were that we would have to spoon-feed our VA,” Ben admits. “I am shocking at delegation and assumed that I would become frustrated at showing someone how to do things and setting up processes, but within a week Jae was in full swing! I’ve learnt to actually let go. “

His advice to fellow business owners emphasises the importance of overcoming apprehensions and embracing change, ultimately leading to greater efficiency and productivity.

“Our advice for business owners is to not let the fear of taking the next step hold you back. Hiring a VA is not as daunting as you think and they will have better work ethic than any of your previous employees!”

Future Plans

Ben’s vision for the future extends beyond virtual collaboration, emphasising the importance of fostering personal connections with virtual assistants. 

“In the near future, we hope to invest in bringing Jae out to Australia,” Ben reveals. “Show her our facility and how everything works here on the ground! From our experience, VAs from the Philippines are highly intelligent, with a majority of them having completed or currently completing their masters in their chosen field.”

Final Thoughts

“When Virtual Elves was suggested to us, we did not look at any other options,” Ben concludes. 

“They had the stamp of approval from our business mentor and other great family businesses. Initially, we interviewed 3 candidates Virtual Elves provided before hiring. Hiring a VA is an extremely low-risk choice when looking to hire.” 

“Most Aussie business owners will tell you how frustrating the labour market is currently. We all have a horror story about a hire. At the time we hired our VA, we could not afford a full-time staff member here in Australia. We viewed a VA as a bit of a stepping stone; this couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, a VA is a much smarter move and is a great way to scale.”

Ben’s journey with Virtual Elves exemplifies the transformative impact of virtual assistance on business operations. His endorsement of Virtual Elves speaks volumes about the quality of service and the tangible benefits that virtual assistants bring to businesses seeking to scale and thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

Download our ‘100 things a VA can do for you’ checklist and start taking control of your growth.

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