HOW DOES SHE DO IT?
Spotlight on Suslin Leathers, CEO of K45, Inc.
Arise: Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, and what made you start a call center company that uses the Arise Platform?
SL: I was born in Bimini, one of the Bahamian islands. I then moved to Florida and am now living in Georgia. I represented a shipping/cargo company for many years but was getting tired of all the traveling and the demands of the business. I was burned out, actually. About six years ago someone told me about Arise. I remember her saying that it was a great way to work from home. That appealed to me, so I looked into it, registered and immediately started my own business. I jumped right in. At first, I kept my original job while I was serving clients with the Arise Platform. But once I felt secure with my company — and I knew I could earn a living— I left my other job. Running my own company enabled me to free up my life and move to Florida. It was a great decision for me on many levels.
Arise: How did you come up with your business name K45?
SL: [laughs] Actually, my two sons came up with it when they were 7 and 9 years old. It has something to do with the brain of the computer. One of my sons in particular was very much into computers and technology. They were so insistent about that name that I went ahead and used it and it’s been my business name since the start. It’s been lucky for me. K45, people always wonder and ask me about it.
Arise: What are your interests and hobbies?
SL: I love, love, love swimming and boating— anything around the water. It’s a great release after work. I also enjoy spending time with my family and grandkids.
Arise: How has owning a call center company that uses the Arise Platform helped to promote your enjoyment of life, interests, and hobbies?
SL: When you work with a brick and mortar company, you have to fit your life into their hours. You also have to drive to work and do what your boss needs you to do. But when you work for yourself from home while using the Arise Platform, it’s the other way around. I fit my work into my life. I’m able to plan work around my personal schedule and life priorities. If I know I’m going out for the weekend, I will work more hours during the week. If I know someone special is having a birthday, I plan around it. The time is your own; you just have to be smart about your hours. I enjoy my life much more now than when I was working a 9-to-5 job. Plus, you can use the time you would have spent driving in traffic to make money.
One other thing… I’ve had some serious medical issues in the last six years, yet I was still able to keep my business, prepare agents, and service clients. I would not have been able to do that with a regular office job. I had the flexibility to workaround my illness and my healing.
What does a week in your life look like?
I get up by 7 a.m. and check my systems to see if they are working. During peak season, the systems need to boot up by 8 a.m. I log in to the chat room and start work. During off-season, I don’t log on until 10 a.m. or even 10:30 a.m. I take a break in the middle of the day and then come back to work from 5 p.m. until 8 pm. In between, I play with my grandbabies, and have dinner with my family. It’s precious time. I feel like I have far more family time than I ever could with a regular office job. My four-year-old granddaughter knows the drill. As soon as I put my finger on my lips, she knows I am working and will not bother grandma. It’s the same when my cousin’s little girl comes over; she knows not to interrupt me when I’m working. After work, dinner and family time, I swim in the evenings. Now that it’s warm again, I swim right in the pool in the backyard. It’s great therapy.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in servicing customers and how do you overcome them?
SL: You know, they teach you to let the customer vent. I have found that in work and in life it is the very best way to get around an angry person. Let them vent, kill them with kindness, and you will diffuse the issue.
I recall one time a customer called and she was mad because she thought the program didn’t do what it was supposed to. She went on and on about it, but she missed a step and didn’t transmit her returns like she should have. I listened until she was done speaking and then I told her that I once made that very same mistake myself; that it was an easy thing to overlook. I was on her side. Her attitude changed immediately and she couldn’t stop thanking and praising me for my help. I don’t have problems with clients that I can’t resolve. It’s all about having the right attitude.
Was is your favorite thing about using the Arise Platform to connect your company with client opportunities?
SL: The freedom it gives you. As a business owner working for myself, I was able to move to Georgia, to be with my son without skipping a beat. That’s the WONDERFUL thing with Arise— you can go anywhere you want to go. As long as you have the proper Internet connection, equipment and a quiet place to work, you can visit friends and family and put in your hours. You can live life on your own terms.
*Images used are representations and are not actual images of the Call Center Business Owner being referenced