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Productivity / Time management tips

How one business process improvement saves me hours

We all have at least one business process that is consistently inconsistent. It’s the one where you just change this bit for one client, this bit for another. If you've ever over-customised, it could be time to systemise your processes.

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Before I started systemising, my “consistently inconsistent” bugbear was the way I responded to new client intake.

I have a welcome email I send to new clients as part of my new business process. It has the package they signed up for, dates and times, payment options, service agreements – you name it. I would spend at least 30 minutes customising this for each new client, messing around with the format, changing the attachments and so on.

Then I went to a workshop on Business Process Improvement and became highly motivated to make this process a whole lot better. Here’s what happened.

I learned about creating an email template with fields so all I would need to do is enter the various pieces of information in the right place. I decided to be happy with a standard introduction instead of a highly customised one and I reworded it so that no matter who the client is, the relevant information is contained in the email.

Note: the instructions for creating Email Templates in MS Outlook are right here….

"As if by magic, a 30+ minute job became a five minute job."

As if by magic, a 30+ minute job became a five minute job. Even better, if I ever outsource my new client intake procedure to an assistant, all I need to write is a list of the fields that need to be completed and anybody could use the template to welcome my new clients.

I think that’s called “future-proofing”.

I’ll bet that many of you can identify a business process like this.

Maybe it’s the way you write proposals, where 50% or more of the content is the same. Or perhaps it’s how you process new business orders for your consulting services. You can do all these things consistently, and you can save time, money and energy by establishing a process.

Want more articles like this? Check out the time management tips section.

The best way to think about creating a new business process for something is to ask yourself:

What would I need to put in place to enable someone else to do this?

It’s likely that you’ll need more than just written instructions – you may also need to reference other documents, filing systems, equipment, people and so on.

While I was on a roll I reviewed/created/updated some more processes:

  • Stationary ordering
  • Telephone answering
  • Invoicing
  • Bookkeeping (a process for my bookkeeper, that is)

Still on the list:

  • Marketing (now that’s a big one)
  • Client review and follow-up
  • Asking for testimonials

The first quarter of the year is a brilliant time to focus on cleaning up the back office stuff and setting solid foundations for the year to come.

So who’s going to get in the spirit and take up my challenge? Share your great “get smart” results with me and other readers.

Megan Tough

runs Complete Potential, a company that helps businesses solve their strategy and people problems. She loves being a solopreneur, and when she doesn't have her nose to the grindstone, is fulfilling her other passion of fitness and health.

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