Like many soloists, I use templates. Mine are for things like invoices, coaching agreements and emails for new clients. Business templates create efficiency; however they also create opportunity for error.
How easy it is to forget to change a name, adjust a date or amend a heading when using a business template. Perhaps we are rushing, perhaps we are tired or distracted, perhaps we just aren’t paying enough attention.
What is the consequence of such small errors? Surely nobody cares, right? They understand it is just a small oversight .
Let me tell you a story. Recently I received an envelope from a local framing company. They sent me a gift voucher to celebrate my birthday, offering me a $15 discount on framing. This offer had an expiry date of 31th February 2009!
February doesn’t have 31 days in it, even in a Leap Year. Even if it did, it should say 31st not 31th.
Within a nanosecond of receiving this gift voucher, I knew I wouldn’t be using this framing business for any more work. Their lack of attention to detail gave me an uneasy feeling about the attention to detail they might have in framing something for me.
Have I been harsh in my judgment of this framing business? Maybe, but I have no plans to spend my money with them.
The immediacy and strength of my reaction made me pause and think about my own business. How many times had I neglected a small detail within a business template? How many people had been turned away from my business as a result? I have no idea but I have become extra careful every time I have used a template since!
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Here are five ways to ensure the integrity of business templates:
1. Diarise a review every quarter
Things change and evolve. Regular reviews ensure your business templates are current and relevant. Reviews also ensure you eradicate any errors that may have crept in.
2. Get a third party to check
I have my VA proof read every new business template I create before I use them. A third party does not know what a document is “meant” to say and is more likely to pick up the simple errors.
3. Highlight areas that need amending
My coaching agreement template is full of yellow highlighted sections that show me where I need to add/amend information. I only undo the highlight colour once the information is added ensuring the agreement only gets sent out once correctly updated.
4. Avoid using previous completed versions
Anytime I use a previous edition of my newsletter to create a new edition I have a high rate of error with simple things like newsletter title or date. Going back to a clean template ensures that these mistakes do not occur.
5. Avoid rushing
Any time I feel rushed to complete a template I am almost guaranteed to make an error. Take a moment; slow down so that you are thinking clearly. Better to take an extra 10 minutes than to send out an error strewn document.
Have you had any entertaining hiccups with templates? What structures have you implemented to ensure the integrity of your business templates?