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Secret to Santa's Success: A VA Team

Santa Claus in sleigh with reindeer flying across moon and stars

Santa Claus is a busy bloke. There's no one else in the world who spends 364 days preparing for one ten-hour project. Just 10 hours to deliver all the presents in the entire world, accompanied only by some flying reindeer. Project creep is not an option when the children of the world are relying on you. Project delivery is 24 to 25 December no matter what. He has to get all the time zones right, AND only go down the chimney once the children are safely asleep.... and any parent knows that pre-Christmas excitement and sleep don't mix, which makes his route changeable, to say the least. He also has to fly in uniform, whether he is delivering to Australia or Alaska.

Luckily, Santa has special access to every mobile network in the world, allowing him to stay in close contact with his team of elves and Virtual Assistants, all of whom have been working hard throughout the year to ensure that this night of all nights goes without a single hitch, ensuring that the only hiccups are those emanating from the elves that got into the fizzy drinks warehouse.

Procurement VA’s handle the purchase of gifts on behalf of Santa Claus to ensure that the best value for money is obtained when purchasing in bulk. They work closely with the Research VA’s and Finance VA’s to provide a fully-rounded service.

Reporting VA manages the incoming information and produces weekly management reports for Santa Claus regarding types and quantities of gifts required, as well as liaising with Stock Control VA to ensure that demand is not going to outstrip supply. These two teams of VA’s work closely together to ensure that Santa always has the most up to date management information possible to allow him to make effective purchasing decisions.

A team of Correspondence VAs answers all the letters from children, taking careful note of the spreadsheet of naughty children to ensure they don’t promise gifts to those children who don’t deserve them. The correspondence VA’s have a KPI of one week in which to reply to the letters and use template letters which they amend to show the correct gifts or to state what specific acts of disobedience have led to the child being undeserving of a gift.

Social Media VA manages Santa Claus and the Elves' presence on various platforms and ensures that all posts are positive, brand-appropriate, and effective, paying close attention to analytics and ensuring fresh content is posted regularly to maximise engagement.

Organisational VA plans sleigh routes, checks the SatNav on the sleigh, plans the most effective layout for the warehouse to minimise walking, creates filing systems for the letters and assists in the day-to-day management of the workshops and offices to ensure that all processes run smoothly and in a time efficient manner.

Events management VA’s organise public appearances by Santa Claus at the North Pole as well as managing the staff Christmas party, the latter taking place in January after the big event has happened. The office party is a particularly raucous affair as everyone lets off steam after a hugely busy December. This inevitably leads to HR VA being exceptionally busy throughout January sorting out the usual fallout from office parties ranging from who snogged who, who took a photo of it and put it on Facebook, whose bottom was on the photocopier, and who threw up in the yucca plant.

Sales and Marketing VA keeps the CRM up to date following Santa’s undercover visits to trade shows worldwide. Santa visits selected shows alongside the Research VA as he finds this is the best way to deflect attention from himself. The beard is a bit of a giveaway and he gets mobbed if he visits alone.

HR VA provides minute-taking for Disciplinary meetings because elves can get a bit giddy and inappropriate at times and this has led to a number of complaints ranging from bullying (the elves like to play “Pin the Tail on the Reindeer” on the live reindeer whilst they sleep). Failure to follow safety rules, including the now famous ChairGate when a chair race around the warehouse, had terrible consequences. Elves have a wicked sense of humour and there have been a number of cases of shoelaces being tied together, whoopee cushions being placed under staff and tools being superglued to the workbenches.

Research VA attends a variety of trade fairs throughout the world, including the Toy and Gift Fairs in Harrogate, to identify the ideal toys for children throughout the world. She provides detailed information to Santa Claus presented in folders by type of toy, age of likely recipient, safety record, cost, choice of colour/outfit etc. Santa Claus will then notify the procurement VA to pre-order the items he has chosen.

Technology VA tracks the latest technology throughout the year, attending all the major technology shows to find out what tech is likely to be requested by children. She reviews everything electronic and computerised, tracking the popularity of computers, laptops, mobile telephones, games consoles and AI devices to ensure the right gadgets can be purchased, in the right quantities, at the right price. This is a particularly difficult job as technology moves so rapidly that manufacturers cannot always prioritise Santa’s order or manufacture sufficient numbers to meet Santa’s order. Unfortunately, this is why some children may not get the latest iPhone for Christmas.

All of these things are tasks that a freelance VA could do for a less exalted personage than Santa Claus of course. And whilst I'm not a financial or a reindeer expert, if your admin is driving you demented, and you need tasks to be completed accurately, efficiently and within the deadline set for it, then please get in touch with me.

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