Operating a business is a time consuming venture no matter how large or small your business is. Until we figure out how to extend the hours of a day, streaming business operations is your best way to maximizing productivity and profitability.
There are literally dozens of ways to streamline your business operations. Trying to implement them all can quickly become another time suck. Instead, focus on the five strategies below to start streamlining and saving time instantly:
Streamline Contact Management With a CRM
Leads and referrals are the lifeblood for all businesses. Managing contacts is something that has to be taken seriously, but doesn’t have to become a time-consuming burden. Customer relationship management (CRM) software makes staying in contact and nurturing leads an autopilot experience.
These systems keep all of your contacts organized, keep track of when and what contact is made and help the sales team connect on a more meaningful level. These systems have a variety of functions, but one of the most popular CRM features is marketing automation tools. This allows you to create email campaigns that are automatically sent and provide automatic follow up anytime someone fills out a form or calls your business.
With a CRM, a lot of the contact management work is done for you after the initial setup. Reports can also be generated to provide valuable insight into marketing and sales with minimal effort.
Use a Cloud-Based Phone System to Bring All Your Calls Together
The latest technology in telephone communication is cloud-based calling systems. Instead of your cell phone, office phones and home phone being spread out and under different plans, everything is brought together in the cloud. Calls to your business number can be routed to any phone in any location.
Now there’s no telephone lines or equipment tying things down to a particular place or phone. Better still is that cloud-based phone systems are much easier to manage while providing more features. All of your voicemails, call recordings and call tracking data for all of your phone numbers can be found in a single online account. Reports can be generated with a click of a button so you can analyze phone leads, sales and marketing efforts all at once.
Use an Accounting System to Put Payments on Autopilot
If you’re spending more than a few minutes creating invoices, making payments and reminding customers and clients that payments are due, it’s time to invest in an accounting system. Today there are accounting software options that can do it all for you.
Look for an accounting system with the following capabilities:
- Generate invoices
- Send email reminders when payments are late
- Alert you when late payment reminders are sent
- Process electronic transfers to make your payments
- Keep records of all transactions and create reports
A dynamic accounting system will make balancing the books every month a breeze and really pays off during tax season.
Hire Outside Help
There are three things that businesses can leverage to increase productivity: time, money and people. Hiring full-time employees is not always necessary or financially feasible. But hiring outside contract workers is a smart streamlining strategy.
Not only will outside help free up your time, it can also save you money and help you implement other streamlining systems. Three areas to consider outsourcing are administrative work, technical functions and specialized tasks.
Desk-based work can take up to 32% of an entrepreneur’s day, and is often busy work that can easily be handled by someone else. Tech issues can be completed in a matter of minutes by someone that knows what they’re doing, and they can help to future-proof systems. The same goes for other specialized work that requires expertise. If the task isn’t directly making money or helping grow your business it’s time to delegate.
Create a Customer Portal
You can help customers and clients help themselves with a customer portal. This is a portion of your website that’s dedicated to answering questions and providing information. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. It just needs to act like a help desk that customers can browse on their own.
Something as simple as an FAQ page can dramatically cut down on the number of customer calls that have to be fielded. You can beef up your customer portal by making it interactive. Allow customers to submit support tickets, fill out forms and complete transactions to streamline several processes simultaneously. In addition to streamlining your customer service this will also help boost customer satisfaction.