IMIG USA: Virtual office and new hire process
People often approach Cyril Berg, Managing Director IMIG USA, and like to know how IMIG USA is able to support Jacob HQ (Jacob GmbH Elektrotechnische Fabrik, www.jacob-gmbh.de) in the US without having a physical location or office space, finding the right support staff, regardless of their discipline, and supporting seamlessly all the sales related and administrative issues on a daily basis. Based on his actual experience over the last five years, Cyril Berg will try to give an answer.
Business life changed and still does
Like most of you in the business world, I also worked during my career in the US in a physical location, office or cubicle, in a building that the company I worked for leased or purchased. All necessary operational functions, engineering, manufacturing, sales, and admin were in one location and it was easy to reach people, you ‘just’ walked over and talked to each other to get things done. Salespeople used the office location as their base and traveled to see customers either by plane or by car. That is the way things were done ‘back then’ (80’s and 90”s), and the only way to communicate with customers and people outside of the office or abroad was by phone landlines and fax.
That sort of changed when cell phone technology and email and texting capability were introduced (’94 +), as this allowed to have regionally distributed people stay in ‘continuous’ contact regardless of their location. You still had the main office and manufacturing in one location, but this ‘facilitated’ to have ‘regional’ folks, most of them are sales oriented and business development focused, all requiring having an ‘office at home’, which they used to meet with their regional customer base. Over time that became the norm, and management of companies got used to the idea, and the concept of ‘virtual company’ presence was introduced (’00+). Nationwide (Global) company with local (domestic) presence became the ‘norm’.
Networking means the world
How has this benefited me? Over the years, having been in various positions at several companies, I have built up a network of subject matter experts, whether it is human resources, payroll, sales support, etc., people I can reach out to and help me with specific issues. This network became very useful when I was asked to support IMIG HQ establish a foothold for Jacob HQ in the US. As IMIG already had an ‘established’ company in the US, IMIG NSA (at that time, recently converted into IMIG USA), setting up the additionally necessary support structure became relatively easy.
Bringing Jacob GmbH to the USA
Finding a suitable office location for Jacob USA in North Carolina became the first priority as this also needed to be the ‘official’ office address for IMIG, and I reached out to one of my NC contacts and she recommended the Mallard Creek Road location. A very nice office space, on a monthly rental basis, with concierge and phone forwarding capability and meeting rooms for when either IMIG or Jacob HQ had customers needed to be invited for meetings.
Hiring process and building a (virtual) working-team
Subsequent to the hiring process of the respective sales person (more on that later), it was important to establish payroll and all other administrative support, needing to make certain the salesperson could focus on business development and sales, and not worry about how and if he or she would get paid. I contacted a HR person at one of my previous companies and asked her to set up payroll, 401K, vacation, taxes etc., and approached a colleague of my daughters (an accountant) to provide part-time admin and accounting support to make certain we would comply with the US tax rules, and provide proper reporting to IMIG and Jacob HQ. In the process, we also changed accounting firms, and used a new accounting firm, again recommended by my NC contact. Mind you all this was done by phone and email, and not once did we have to meet in person.
Of course, we needed to arrange the appropriate bank account issues, and I set up a checking account, and credit card and debit card accounts for all people involved at a local bank - the same bank I used for my personal banking for over ten years. With all these issues it is important to recognize that it is key who you know, not what you know, and that the resources are reliable and trustworthy. It all comes down to trust to find and work with the right people.
All in all, IMIG (in support as well of Jacob) now has an office in Charlotte, NC, an accounting firm in Charlotte, NC, admin support in El Paso, TX, sales presence in Charlotte, NC and recently also Albuquerque, NM, and banking support in Gilbert, AZ (my home town). It cannot be as virtual as this, what do you think? We stay in touch via phone, email and once in while video conferencing.
Let me also touch briefly on the hiring process, as this has seen a paradigm shift over the last couple of years as well. While we used a headhunter for the first Jacob hire, and it is still common to use them, more and more companies use social networking as the means of hiring, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, XING and the like. As mentioned, Jacob’s first sales person was hired using a headhunter, and while that process resulted into good candidates, the second go around, adding a person for the US West coast, I decided to use an online recruiting site www.indeed.com. After spending approximately $500 and 300+ resumes later, we were able to hire another person after two rounds of interviews (4 candidates each). While at face value this appears to be time-consuming, the entire process lasted only four weeks, and close to 20 hours of my personal time. I would submit not a bad return of investment.
A new way of thinking has become commonplace and has allowed all of us to be more cost-effective and become more efficient in dealing with day to day issues in the personal and professional sphere.
Managing Director I IMIG USA
For further information about IMIG, please either contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us: +49 7152/928 460.