As I mentioned earlier, a website can be a powerful lead-generation and customer acquisition tool. In addition to being a marketing tool, your website can (and should) serve as a tool to cut operating costs for your small business.
Being a small business owner often means working with limited financial resources, especially in the early stages of your business. It is critical to find ways to grow your business without having to invest in additional employees or subcontractors to perform on-going business functions.
One way to cut operating costs is to make use of technology, and specifically your website, and automate work which has been traditionally done by business associates.
What business processes can be automated?
1. Quote generation.
Do you find yourself spending too much time on the phone with prospective customers or responding to email inquiries throughout the day answering a stream of questions about your services? While direct communication with customers and prospects is crucial to growing a business, it may take up a significant chunk of your working hours.
The good news is you don't have to be constantly available in person to provide quotes and estimates. There are several ways to integrate this task within your website. A detailed and properly configured contact form, an instant quote calculator, and a menu of your services with a price list are all great options.
Scheduling consultations or services is another task that can be integrated into your website. There are several programs on the market that allow customers view your calendar and see your availability, book an appointment, cancel and reschedule-- all without you having to interrupt your day to do scheduling. Since your website can be accessed on your mobile device (and if it isn't, you should look into adding this functionality to it), you will be able to see your calendar at a glance and make adjustments to your daily schedule.
3. Email communication.
Email is one of the worst culprits when it comes to time waste. To provide superior customer service, a business owner has to respond to customer inquiries as soon as possible. The larger your customer base, the harder it gets to keep up with all the incoming emails. Then there is also communication with your vendors, suppliers, and your employees or subcontractors.
Business email powered by G Suite, a Google product, allows to set autoresponders, email forwarders, add users/assistants to your account so that they could handle your email and calendar for you, connect to your calendar, assign filters to delete, star or forward your incoming email to route it to subfolders, use pre-written message templates, and much more.
4. Employee/Subcontractor scheduling.
If you hire subcontractors or employees, you know how time-consuming it is to assign and track their work and stay on top of their timesheets and payments. There are a few options available today, including free ones, to outsource these functions to a software application. It can be integrated into your website or installed on your mobile device. I have done a review of several applications and will post my recommendations in a future article.
These methods will allow you to cut down on non-billable tasks and free up your time to enable you to focus on revenue-generating work.
If you would like help setting up these systems on your website, please reach out to me and I will be happy to assist.
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