Running a business is hard work. There is no sugar coating it. Besides keeping up with client work, you're also an unofficial bookkeeper, social media director, office manager, marketer, and team leader. There is a lot to keep up with when leading a company, and, if you don’t have the right systems in place, all of this work can come at the expense of new clients, side projects, and even your personal time.
That’s why the smartest business owners have employed streamlined procedures to simplify their workflow and maximize their output. However, efficient processes don't always come as second nature. It often takes some trial and error for many industry professionals to discover the right framework to keep their business running like clockwork. Every company is unique and, thus, tech needs (and expectations) will differ between businesses.
Digitizing your systems is an effective way to save time and energy for you, your team, and your clients, but it might take some time to land on the right combination for your needs. Here are the areas to consider going virtual and reclaiming more space in your schedule and your mind.
Drawing up proposals and contracts
It’s time to say goodbye to the days of stuffy PDFs sent by email requiring our clients to print, sign, and scan documents before sending back to us. Not to mention, emails with attachments are sometimes filtered out by spam filters to protect users’ inboxes, so it’s not the ideal option any longer. Fortunately, there are many digital tools available to simplify the process of sending proposals and contracts.
Many customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, like Honeybook, Dubsado, and 17Hats, have a built-in proposal and contract features that keep all of your documentation in one place (in addition to many more client-facing benefits). If you don't have one of these programs yet, consider using a virtual signing app like DocuSign or HelloSign to simplify the process for your clients and your team.
When you already have a jam-packed schedule, it can be challenging to settle on appointment times with new prospects and clients. Instead of going through back-and-forth emails, opt for a scheduling app that links with your calendar and allows others to book a slot that works for them within your existing schedule. Then, all you have to do is send them a link, and they can choose a time that works best, all within a schedule already confirmed by your calendar.
Try out an app like Calendly or Acuity Scheduling to make life easier for you and your clients, ensuring the appointment process is as efficient as possible.
Collaborating with colleagues
A great event is only as successful as the integrity of the team behind it. Your cooperation with the other vendors for an event is critical for ensuring a smooth and seamless planning process. While phone calls and email threads can certainly foster communication, it can also help to have programs that keep the whole team updated in real-time.
For example, AllSeated is a great option for keeping floorplans and guest lists up-to-date and fosters virtual collaboration from event pros and clients alike. Other programs, like Rock Paper Coin or Planning Pod, can simplify features like payments and timelines for planners to organize in one place for the whole team to connect.
Using a digital solution for invoicing isn't just more manageable; it also makes your business appear more professional. Instead of a PDF attachment and a Square or PayPal link, your clients receive a branded email customized to their event, allowing them to visit your payment portal and pay the invoice directly. It enhances the client experience and, with easy access to automation features, it can be just the answer to keeping your payments on-time without constant oversight.
Many CRM programs include invoicing features, so keep that in mind if you’re on the hunt for a new platform (particularly if you're interested in the proposal and contract features mentioned above). Otherwise, consider accounting software built for small businesses like Quickbooks or Freshbooks.
With the countless digital tools at our disposal these days, it's important to identify your business areas that need the most support and work from there. No two apps are alike, so consider all the features available and how your budget can accommodate a new program. Take advantage of free trials and read customer reviews before sealing the deal, as it’s essential to find the solution that works best for your business.