What would you do if tomorrow morning one hundred people were lined up outside of your doors, credit cards in hand, ready to sign up and do business with you?
Your first reaction is hopefully, “YES!”
Your second reaction may be, “Oh no, now what?”
When one client calls, emails or stops by and wants to do business with you, you can handle the situation with ease. Even if you don’t have everything in place, you can usually muddle through and accomplish the transaction.
But with 100 people lined up, things change. You have to move quicker, think less, and have things in place to make the entire process run smooth.
Think it out. No matter what your reaction was when you read the first sentence above, your mind has probably started thinking of tasks by now. Don’t stop the ideas from coming. Instead, spend some time taking it all in, and writing down a list of ideas. You’re best ideas come when you face a task from a different perspective. I’m willing to bet most of you have only dealt with one client at a time, so the pressure was off. By looking at your business through a different set of eyes, you’ll quickly find where your problem areas are. For instance, maybe you spend quite a bit of time customizing and writing up a contract for each wedding client that comes in. But if you have 100 wedding clients waiting, there is no way you could customize each contract. How can you automate it? Can the contract be saved as a document that is 95 percent complete, with just a few clauses that need to be modified and changed? If that’s the case, type up as many of the clauses as you can and store them in a separate word file. Then its just a matter of copy/paste, and the contract will be ready in seconds.
A checklist for everything. Checklists are probably the best thing ever invented for a small business. If you find yourself doing the same things over and over again, a checklist is the perfect way to keep you on track and make sure you don’t miss a thing. When you sat down to brainstorm ideas above, take those same ideas and put them into checklist format. You can be very detailed, or keep it simple – choice is yours. Whatever helps you stay on track.
Creating the checklist is the first step, but don’t leave it on your computer. Instead, print up a handful of them, and attach them to a file folder. Then have a few in your inbox, or in a special place waiting for the new clients to come in. You can also use this as a motivator. If you put 3 new client folders in your inbox, what can you do to fill up those positions this week?
As the clients come in, you can either hand write their names and contact information on the folder’s tab, or print it out on a label to make it more uniform. You can also change the color of your folders depending on the niche a client ends up in (i.e. you may use yellow for weddings, blue for portraits, and red for commercial).
Use automation. What type of credit card service do you use? How close to the bank are you? If you enter data into an account manager program, does it automatically add the data to your accounting system? With so many different programs and tools available, duplicating what you do again and again should never occur. Instead, find things that do the work in half the time. For instance, many banks now allow you to deposit checks simply by running them through a scanner, or taking a picture of it with your mobile phone. Or you can find programs that allow you to type up client information in a database format, and have the content distributed to many different sources, such as an accounting program like Quickbooks. Even though the initial setup might take more time out of your day, once you have the system in place, you’ll gain a lot of time overall. Concentrate on the long term, not what you need to do today.