Improve your knowledge of office practices and business administration to improve your horticulture business or train your staff. Study by distance learning.

Course Code: VBS102
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Improve Your Office Skills -  office and administration skills are essential for any business

Study this course yourself or use it to train your office and administration staff


  • Learn about how a business office operates.
  • Understand the basis of procedures and processes employed in an office.
  • Learn about communicating effectively.
  • Learn about how the office space is organised.
  • Gain essential knowledge necessary for the efficient operation of an office.


Lesson Structure

There are 6 lessons in this course:

  1. The Modern Office
    • scope of office work
    • procedures
    • the home office vs commercial premises, etc.
  2. Communication Systems
    • using the phone
    • business letters
    • faxes
    • couriers
    • postage, etc.
    • Interpersonal Communications
    • Phone Skills
  3. Writing Letters and Other Documents
    • writing Letters and Reports.
    • structure of a report
    • memos
    • business letters.
  4. Computer Applications
    • scope & uses of computers
    • types of computers
    • software types
    • peripherals
    • word processing
    • CD Roms
    • modems
    • setting up and care of a PC.
  5. Office Organisation and Procedures
    • Stationary
    • office furniture
    • paper specifications
    • filing
    • record keeping etc.
  6. Health and Safety in the Office
    • Office layout and organization
    • security.


How Do You Use an Office Telephone?

People can appear slightly different on the phone to what they do in real life. When people phone a business, they cannot see you, so will rely on your verbal cues and how you answer the phone. The phone is often the front line of a business. If communication is effective, the business does better.

Here are a few examples of bad telephone techniques:

  • A customer waiting for 20 rings before you answer the phone – they may wait or they may give up and go elsewhere!
  • Answering the phone in an impatient manner, sounding impatient when answering questions or relaying information to a customer gives the impression that you are too busy to answer the phone or meet the customer’s needs. This approach leaves a bad impression and also (often) a disgruntled customer - because it tells the customer that their call is not important.
  • Answering the phone and then not knowing enough about the product/s or the service on offer can also give the customer negative feelings about the business.

Whenever we deal with a customer over the phone, we should give them our full attention because they are important.  If we do not have customers:

  • We do not sell our goods or services,
  • We do not make money, 
  • We go out of business
  • We do not have a business.

Many businesses seem to lose sight of this and treat their customers as an inconvenience.

So in order for your business to succeed:

  • Answer phones promptly.
  • Always give your customers your full attention.
  • Be polite, courteous and interested in what they are saying. 
  • Know your product or service.
  • Follow up on your promises promptly.
  • Be honest in your approach.

Try to help them as much as you can. If you cannot help them for any reason, tell them that and then say you will get someone to call them back as soon as possible. Then make sure that the other person does phone them back - but do not make promises you cannot keep. It is better for a customer to be told – “Well, Suki is off on holiday until Tuesday and she is the person you need to speak to, so I will make sure she calls you on Tuesday”. Then to be told “I’ll get someone to call you right back” and the customer is waiting for three days. So do be honest.

Make sure that you do what you say you are going to do:

  • If you promise to post something to them that night - sure you do it.
  • If you promise to email them with some information that day, then do it. 

Get into the habit of dealing with enquiries straight away if you can.  Day to day business can sometimes be distracting. You may be working hard on something and a customer phones up and wants a brochure posted to them. You put their address on a piece of paper to do later. You lose it or it gets left for three days. You can then end up losing customers this way. So do it there and then, if you can and if not then do it as soon as possible. 

Many businesses now use call answering services where the customer is put through a variety of options:
Press 1 if you want to talk about your current account.
Press 2 if you want to talk about your savings account.
Press 3 if you have a complaint.
Press 4 if you want to close your account

Press 1 if you want to talk about an overdraft
Press 2 if……
And so on and so on….
These types of answering services do have their place. They can be effective for larger businesses to ensure that the customer is directed to the right department. But they can be very frustrating for customers, particularly if they are then kept waiting. 

Think carefully about whether this is the type of answering service you should use – is it applicable to your business? Remember if you are a smaller business this may not be the best approach. People do still like to hear a friendly voice on the other end of the phone.

If you would like to improve your own office practices skills and administration skills. Or train your staff in effective office skills, this is the course for you!

A well qualified work force is essential for any horticulture business. Enrol today and learn towards running an efficient office.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Tracey Jones

Widely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience.
Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Lear

David Crothers

Chartered Accountant with 20 years experience in corporate and financial roles. David has a FCA, GAICD, B.Sc.Econ (Hons), Cert IV TAA.
Extensive international experience in business and finance.

Denise Hodges

Promotions Manager for ABC retail, Fitness Programmer/Instructor, Small Business Owner, Marketing Coordinator (Laserpoint). Over 20 years varied experienced in business and marketing. More recently Denise studied naturopathy to share her passion for healt

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