Streamline Your home business
The best way to run a business is to cut out all the unnecessary administration tasks in order to give you the time and space to concentrate on running your business and taking care of your customers. I've collated a list of ideas based on a working-from-home business streamlining process:
Regular emails that you send could be planned out in advance, then you only have to personalise the email to the recipient. You could save these in a Word document in a folder and they could consist of the following:
- Follow up email
after you meet someone at a networking event or similar, it's important to maintain that budding relationship by emailing them with a follow up note and perhaps arrange a one-to-one meeting or ask if you can add them to your newsletter mailing list.
Dear xxx, it was so nice to meet you at xxx, [I would very much like to add you to our mailing list so that you can receive our special offers and news about the work we are involved in. With your permission I will add you to my approved list] or [I hope we get a chance to speak longer at the next meeting, in the meantime if you would like to meet up for a coffee and a chat, I would love that].
Ensure that your email has all your contact details (a branded 'signature' is the best way) so that if they lose your business card, they will have this contact to look back on
- Invoice email
You will have separate templates for estimates, invoices, 1st reminder invoice, 2nd reminder invoice. To have a clear and consistent brand, it's important that your email messaging is consistent as well as the look of your business invoice document
ESTIMATE: Dear xxx, thank you so much for your enquiry, I'm so excited to work on this project together. Please find the estimate and details for the job attached and do let me know if you have any changes you would like made to the document.
INVOICE: Dear xxx, it's been great working together on xxxx, please find the invoice attached along with payment details.
1st REMINDER: Dear xxx, please find attached a reminder invoice for xxx, I understand that life has a way of running away from us so I completely understand if the payment of the attached invoice has slipped the priority list. Please could you settle the bill at your earliest convenience
- having calendars on your office wall to see appointments and events at a glance
to download a monthly wall calendar to get you started…
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A COMPLIMENTARY MONTHLY CALENDAR
schedule, schedule, schedule
if you plan out your regular events you will get the most out of your week and after a while of being consistently visible, you will be noticed as an expert in your field
Example of items to schedule into your working week:
- social media posts and blogs - if you write your posts in advance, be sure to tailor the tone of voice to the specific online platform Facebook, twitter, Linkedin all have audiences that expect to see posts in a certain way and copying and pasting the same post 3 times gives the impression that you don't care about the individual but more about getting the most for your money and you start to lose a little bit of trust that way. It doesn't take that much effort to create one post then vary the writing style according to where you post it. The same content can then be used in a much larger format for a blog so no work is wasted and the message delivery is well thought out. Remember to 'Brand' any images with your logo and try use the same image across all platforms - this is where you need to be consistent in order to cement your brand
- administration - schedule one or two days a week to go through administration practices like invoicing; tracking money paid and unpaid and chasing payment; reviewing the achievements from the past week and planning for the week ahead. Dedicating a certain amount of time during the week to this task means that you aren't constantly stopping work to process items individually - it can be done all in one go. It's much more time efficient and it sets your business up for growth, once you hire a bookkeeper to manage your invoices in the future you will then only need them in for a certain amount of days per week and your customers will also know that invoicing gets done at a certain time.
- networking meetings and one-to-one meetings - try and limit meetings to certain days of the week, perhaps every Thursday for instance, that way you won't be taking up valuable time just meeting up with potential customers and you'll find that more gets done that way, you'll still be nurturing valuable relationships but scheduling it in will allow you to use your time in a highly efficient way
design your invoices up in advance
Ensure that all the various invoices that you need are branded and coloured according to your business brand, this sets an impression of professionalism that creates a level of trust. The type of invoice templates that you need are:
- Initial estimate of costs (updating as you go so the customer knows exactly what they will be invoiced, no surprises) and description of services they will be receiving
- INVOICE after the work is done describing the work done, the cost and instructions on how to pay. You should merely need to copy and paste the latest estimate details and that would've been amended as the project changes, there should be no surprises for the customer otherwise you have broken their trust and endangered repeat business
- 1st reminder invoice - you might find that a customer will also need a 2nd reminder then a direct phone call with an ultimatum but hopefully this will be on the rare occasion. If you have a customer that becomes notorious for late payment you might need to think of not accepting future work from them, think of the waste of time, cost of the job and weigh up the value of keeping that customer
Remember to save all the invoices in a folder to keep track of their payment history, perhaps also logging details in a spreadsheet along with a Job Number so it can all be linked under one number? There are also a variety of online billing systems that are efficient and keeps records automatically on your behalf - these cost money so it would be a personal decision on if you feel it's worth the time versus the fees
create a customer database
perhaps inside a dedicated spreadsheet? The idea is instead of relying purely on memory you can start creating a more personalised customer service and create collaborators rather than clients. Here's some examples of the type of information to store:
- Business name, address
- Telephone numbers
- Email address
- Website - I normally get to this point and then try and find them on social media to link up there, then I can normally extract info like…
- Birthday dates so I can send them a branded birthday card, this shows that I've taken an extra step in caring about them and reminds them my business exists in case they were thinking of using my services and making myself in the forefront on their mind
- Personal notes that can be used in conversation - isn't it amazing when someone remembers your child or dogs name and asks about them by their name? Of course, it shows that they think of you, jot down any information like this to created a more personal connection, this creates a level of customer care that leads to longevity
Tips: keep an eye out for any repeated actions that you can schedule in or create a document for. Branding your business is all about being clear and consistent, anything that you can streamline will only help to enhance your business and give you time and space for growth and remember: anything customer facing - STICK A LOGO ON IT :D
✔ Create templates for all documents that you use again then merely add the information each time, it will save you oodles of wasted time that could be better used elsewhere
✔ Create a schedule that works for you and stick to it, do it long enough and it'll form into a habit and be second nature and absorbed into your daily tasks
✔ Customer care - think about how you can show your customers that you care about them, include them in any promotions that you're currently running through newsletters, prompt and professional communication and remembering personal and important information to strengthen your relationship. People buy from people, don't be scared to get closer to people - it creates a working relationship cemented in trust and mutual respect
And remember - use your logo on everything customer facing. Repetition enforces your professionalism and helps you to be remembered in the online clutter of your competitors and your intention is to create a loyal customer that keeps returning to you even if there are others that do what you do