Today we are very happy with this interview to Dawn Gribble, the Founder, and CEO of Virtual Solutions, a boutique marketing agency that specializes in providing digital services and courses for Restaurants and Hotels. Thank you so much for this interview Dawn we wish you the best*
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Dawn Gribble, the Founder, and CEO of Virtual Solutions, a boutique marketing agency that specializes in providing digital services and courses for Restaurants and Hotels.
Hospitality services and Restaurants are all about making people happy – people can’t get back their time once they’ve used it, so every experience needs to be a good one.
I created Virtual Solutions because I realized that digital has changed the world. Companies should be able to get the support they need (whether that’s through marketing, administrative support or business development) when they need it.
There are a lot of cost savings in hiring experts who come to the job fully trained and up-to-date with the latest tools and techniques, rather than managing it all in-house.
I started the business because I wanted to work from home with the kids and support others who do the same. It’s important to me that all our team members have a background in restaurants, food and beverage, and hospitality so they can understand our clients better.
How do you handle the stress and pressure of your job?
Having structure and managing your time is extremely important.
I use tools like Asana to manage my day-to-day tasks, and I set specific timeslots so I can really focus on what I’m doing. It’s the same when it comes to meetings – I like to have an agenda before going in. I find it’s important to keep things moving and focused so our clients get the most out of their time.
Technology changes so fast in the industry, so do the trending topics. We have to be always ‘on’ and really structured so we can be flexible as and when we need to be.
It can be a stressful job, particularly if a client has experienced an issue with negative PR. That presents some unique issues because you’ve got to get on top of it right away. Time really is of the essence, but it helps that we have an exceptional support team and high-level tools to manage all the different tasks at once!
Having some level of pressure makes you work harder and more focused. It makes you deliver more, although there’s a difference between healthy pressure and unhealthy pressure, and managing that goes a long way in reducing stress.
How can you manage your company? as a founder and CEO of virtual Solutions?
I’ve got to wear a lot of different hats, I’m a strategist and I’m in charge – I work on the company as well as in the company.
Some days I can be doing strategy, other times I’m doing Content Creation, Research, Community Management, Strategy Planning, Marketing and Sales, Relationship Building.
I take a structured approach so that I can manage all these different roles and provide the highest standard of service every time.
Working in all the different areas of Virtual Solutions lets me see and understand the business in a way you just can’t get from reports – it makes our company stronger because we all have a deep understanding and respect for the work each of us does.
What motivates you?
I love how Digital Marketing is so fluid. The market is ever-changing, new technology, customer expectations and trends – it’s never the same job twice.
I’m very curious by nature; I like understanding how people work.
I love to explore new avenues and learn new things, then apply this knowledge to how I work. All of our team at Virtual Solutions undertake continuous learning – as the market grows and evolves, so do we.
How do you evaluate success?
To put it really simply – if our clients are happy then we’re happy. When we work with clients, we don’t just set it and forget it, we take an active role in assisting them at every stage of the process.
But really, success depends on the client and what they’re looking for. For customers who are looking to increase their reputation, we would look at the quality of reviews, visits to the page, likes, and shares. For a customer who wants to increase bookings and sales, we’d look at visits to the website, customer service response times and conversions.
There are so many different types of metrics you can use to measure your performance online, which is why before we start, we work with our clients to create realistic goalposts and expectations. This helps them work out which streams of data they need to collect and understand to determine how well they’re performing.
What are you passionate about?
I have a real passion for food, I love to cook and I love to eat different dishes from different parts of the world. In 2014, I appeared on Masterchef UK and it was a life-changing experience. It made me realize just how much I love food, and how much I wanted to incorporate this passion into my work.
We restricted Virtual Solutions to specialize in Restaurants and Hospitality because of this passion, and it really pushes me forward to see amazing dishes and locations, and to have the opportunity to share these with others.
If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you do differently?
I’d spend some more time focusing on my own personal development. You get so busy and rushed dealing with the day-to-day needs of the company and then home, that it’s not always easy to find time for yourself.
What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make in your daily life?
When you’re in a larger company, everyone brings in their own energy and you can build on it. But in a small team, where I’m the one who makes most of the decisions, it is sometimes hard to be that motivating force for others, especially if they work remotely.
This is why we have regular team meetings and utilize messenger technology, emails, and Asana. Our team is constantly working together and supporting each other, which is something you wouldn’t necessarily get in a bigger organization.
What is your greatest weakness?
I wouldn’t say I have a ‘greatest’ weakness – I think if you’re prepared to learn, then you can always work on your weak spots and turn them into strengths.
When I do identify areas which I’m not as confident in, I search out training tools and have the support of my team.
What is your greatest strength?
Being resilient. I don’t give up and am always looking for new ways to improve myself and the company. I’m always looking for new tactics and new strategies, and new learning opportunities – and as a result of that, I know what I do very well!
Describe a typical workday.
My day generally starts at about 6 am. The first thing I do is check the social media channels; see what’s trending, if anything has happened overnight, and whether there are any situations we need to immediately take notice of.
Then I check through my emails before reading the different news feeds (they’re sorted by topic to make this easier). I’ll save any articles I think are important for later.
At about 8 am I get into the office and sort the emails into priority order, and work on my Asana tasks. I like to do my business development in the morning, and schedule content for the day.
At 11 am the phone lines are open, and I’ll typically take calls until around 4 pm. Throughout the day I monitor the social media channels, answer questions on Quora, network on LinkedIn and Twitter.
I also look at what our client’s competitors are doing, make sure there’s no action we need to take, monitor their channels and make sure that any questions are answered.
Then I do some personal development with training courses and reading the articles I’d saved in the morning, and work on webinars and content strategy for Virtual Solutions, finishing the workday at around 5 pm.
Throughout the evenings I monitor social media for any breaking news that may affect my clients.
Tell us more about your world and your relationship with the hotels, the brands and the restaurants your work for.
My work takes me all across the world; I could be in Greece, the UK, Dubai, and the Middle East – sometimes I don’t know where I’m going to be from week to week!
I like to get to know our clients, I think communication is essential and when we’re working with a client, we like to make sure we have a discussion at least once a week even if it’s just a quick report.
We look for new ways to improve what our clients are doing and work together to adjust their strategies to give them the best possible service.
We make sure to keep everyone up to date with what’s going on in their local region, it’s so important that they know what might affect their business, and what might encourage more customers to visit. It’s really important for restaurants and hotels to foster good relationships with their local community.
How do you enter the world of digital marketing and photography?
I got into it by owning a retail store where the footfall was declining and wanted to find another revenue stream. As a result I started building websites, I built an e-commerce store – and from that I taught myself the PPC, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, and Email Marketing – all of my experience has been very much hands-on by doing it myself and making it a success, then taking it and applying it to an industry I know and love.
Describe a time when your workload was heavy and how you handled it.
I’ve worked on events where you’re on the go from 7 am to 3 am the next morning, and that can be really difficult. But I really enjoy events, there’s a big payoff for the huge amount of work you’re required to do in a short amount of time. It just comes down to your personal attitude and what solutions can you bring in those situations.
Having a resilient attitude in those sorts of situations and being prepared to do the extra hours to meet the deadline. Sometimes you just have to do it, and you need to be prepared for that.
Thank you so much for this interview Dawn we wish you the best*
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