One of the most common challenges that business face is time – having enough resources available to complete both the daily tasks required for running the business, and other tasks that are about moving the business forward. This is essential if a business is to remain competitive, but all too often the daily tasks consume the time available, leaving precious little for work to expand, improve, or innovate. One way to solve this, without spending more money on resources, is to automate.
Business automation means using software tools to do tasks and processes that are currently completed manually. Here are some suggestions:
Customer Relationships and the Sales Process
Many businesses still do not utilise the power of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. Some have them installed but have not implemented them effectively, while others have not even installed them.
There are challenges to their implementation, but a properly run CRM system will improve customer relationship building, increase the number of leads your business contacts, and will shorten the sales process. It will also generate data that you can view in reports to help you improve your business.
Are there questions or queries that customers regularly ask? Do customers often run into the same challenges with using your products? You need customer support policies in place to deal with this. You might, for example, send the customer help information, or speak to them over the phone. Automating these tasks will decrease the burden on your business.
You could create a detailed FAQ section on your website that answers all those regularly asked questions. You could also create a knowledge base of how-to and explainer articles on your website that walk users through particular processes or tasks. Or you could create online videos which show users what to do.
With the right software packages, you can automate everything from invoicing to reports to payroll to payments. This saves time compared to manually crunching the numbers. It is also more accurate.
There is a vast range of accounting packages available, including some that are very inexpensive. You can also get free options, although you will have to check the functionality to ensure they are able to do all the things you need.
This is another area that has traditionally been completed manually. For example, manually checking employee timesheets and then entering that information on your payroll system. If you connect your time management and payroll systems, however, you will save time and money.
Automating your marketing messages means you can concentrate on other aspects of your business while knowing you are regularly keeping in touch with your customers. For example, you can automate many aspects of email marketing, social media marketing, or online ad campaigns.
How To Automate
It is often best to begin by automating easy processes first. Don’t, for example, start by purchasing an expensive and complex software solution that will take your employees a long time to get to grips with. It is much easier to start small.
One of the reasons for this is to bring your people with you. This is because many businesses experience resistance to automation. This can be because of tech-phobias, lack of trust in the system, or protectionism (protecting jobs or hoarding knowledge). You have to demonstrate that automation is good for everyone, and it can be effective. Starting slowly helps with this.
It is also good to concentrate on areas of your business where there is a definable return on investment. This measurement of success will keep you motivated to move onto the next automation task.
For more help and advice with your business, please contact a member of the Gilroy Gannon team today.