You know your business. You know your value to your customers and you know how to get it to them. Now let’s talk about maximizing your time. Let’s talk automation.
Today, it’s more important than ever to save time in areas that don’t necessarily need your full attention -- so that you can focus on what’s really important. After all, keeping busy means little to your business if you aren’t efficient. And efficiency means very little if you’re compromising the great quality of the customer service you’re offering your clients. Here’s a couple tips on how to efficiently automate your small business while still offering great service to your clientele.
Automate Your Scheduling
The first step toward maximizing efficiency through solid (and automated) time management practices. This is not only a challenge for businesses that need to meet with clients, but especially for SMBs that rely on appointments (such as doctors, salons, etc.). All too often, emails get lost or buried in your folders, and phone calls are made when you’re busy or out of the office.
With automated scheduling, however, your clients make appointments whenever it’s convenient for them, and you skip the back and forth hassle of telephone tag and hidden emails. Just plug in your availabilities and show up to the meeting, nothing more, nothing less.
Probably the most accessible option, Google Calendars can be shared publicly so that clients can see when you’re available, and then schedule meetings and appointments at times that are convenient to both them and you. You can efficiently share events, holidays meetings as well as times when you’re open to clients. If your small business is service-based, online automated scheduling software such as CalendarSpots can book your clients for you, whether you’re a doctor, a cosmetician, a salon or any other business that requires constant appointmenting.
Automating Contract Approval
Yesterday, signing contracts meant a loop of back and forth faxing between client and business. Today, the contract process is expedited thanks to e-signatures.
Simply put, e-signatures are electronically sent stamps that serve as an equivalent to an individual’s personal signature. It speeds up the signing process and allows companies to cut out the physicality of many of their contracts– not to mention, they’re accepted as legal equivalents to print signatures in the United States as well as the European Union.
Tools like QuoteRoller, for example, is an easy to use software that allows businesses to create, edit and analyze business proposals. With an easy to use interface, businesses can use reusable proposal templates or create proposals from scratch. Moreover, QuoteRoller offers analytic insight allowing your business to see who’s reading your proposals, what they’re reading, and how long they’re spending on your pricing pages. This allows your business to automate the proposal process and easily tailor your proposals based on past results and feedback.
Automating Your Invoicing
Running around collecting accounts payable is costly in both time and money. Your business doesn’t move forward if your time is spent chasing cheques and receipts. Moreover, customers want an easy way to see what they’ve paid and what they owe. Automation solves this and adds an element of efficiency to your business’ bookkeeping so you can spend time doing what’s really important.
And your business does not have to be a large enterprise to justify or afford such automated accounting infrastructure. With over 5 million users, Freshbooks is an industry leader in automated invoicing, and offers both free and paid options. Their cloud accounting software allows your business to efficiently send, receive and file receipts, keep contact with your clients, and access your accounting data from your smartphone, tablet home or office computers. Freshbooks also automatically counts your hours so your business doesn’t need to worry about adding up billable hours.
Similar to Freshbooks, Curdbee is another popular invoicing automation system. Billable hours, sending and receiving receipts and invoices as well as building and sending quotes has never been easier and more efficient. The big difference here is a question of price and reputation. While Freshbooks is a bigger name, Curdbee offers some of the cheapest deals in the cloud accounting game, with packages starting at $5 an hour.
Both softwares are geared towards small businesses, and are key in cutting down both time and costs when it comes to accounting and invoice chasing.
Time is Money
These tips are key to saving time for your small business by automating basic practices. Using the right contract, accounting and scheduling softwares means that you’re shaving time where it matters, and focusing your small business’ attention to where it counts.
After all, time is money, and the more people that spend more time on figuring out basic, routine tasks (such as booking appointments, paying invoices, or getting signatures), the more you’re not only inflating costs, but losing out on an opportunity to grow your business even further.