Road Map Your Systems
February...already, really? Getting your act together in 2012 and organizing your office was a promise that you made to yourself. You know that there are so many opportunities that you are missing, clients that you are losing and sleep that you are depriving yourself of just because you are wasting too much time in your office. The reason you haven't started making a change is???
Everything that we do is a process. It is like the old saying: "Putting the cart before the Horse". When you try to do the 3rd step of a process before the first and second, you end up spending (and wasting time). Think about the process that you use when you brush your teeth, and get ready for work in the morning. We do it every morning with our children, right? Why not have specific processes that we follow in the home office.
Road Mapping your systems and processes will help you fine-tune your processes and allow you to get more done - in less time.
Let's look at three parts of your business that can be more productive by having a Road Map.
- Paperwork and Filing
- Client follow-ups
Your paperwork system should allow you to handle your paperwork effectively and quickly. The system can be as easy as:
- Having a dedicated and responsible person for mail pick-up.
- Immediately eliminate unneeded and unwanted paperwork. There isn't a reason to let it stick around and pile-up if you know that you won't use it or need it. Shred it or rip it up and put it into the recycling bin.
- If it is a bill have a dedicated place to file them until it is time for them to be paid or (better yet), pay them immediately and file them away
- Paperwork that requires your attention within the near future should be filed away in a "Hot" or "Warm" file so that you can find them and handle them in a timely manner (for more information check out my File It, Find It...FAST filing system.)
So much business is lost in the client follow-ups. Do you have prospects that ask you to follow-up with them next month - if only you could remember? Here are some simple steps to make sure that you don't lose those potential clients:
- Identify the best way for you to remember to make those follow-ups. Are you a "techy" person? If you are then immediately make a note on your phone, Evernote, Google Calendar or whatever system you use (that works for you) to make that follow-up.
- Dedicate several times a week for follow-ups. My experience is that Friday's are not the best day to do follow-ups. You stand a better chance of reaching your potential client earlier in the week.
- Stop avoiding the obvious....call during a time that you know you have a better chance to reach them. If your follow-up is with a stay-at-home mom, don't call her during her busiest time of day.
- Know what your best method of follow-up. More business is closed when follow-ups are done via the phone. However, with today's busy schedules, you may be able to schedule appointments via instant messaging through Facebook or even your Smart Phones (I have in the past).
- Don't give up on your follow-ups. Keep a running list (preferably in some sort of Client Management System). Until they ask you not to call back, you have permission to politely keep in touch.
Your Calendar system should:
- Be with you all the time. Identify whether you work better with a paper system or an electronic system. While just about everyone has the ability to keep their calendar on their iphone or another device, our recent Article in the Washington Post noted that 75% of the working force still carry a paper calendar.
- Have scheduled office days to ensure that you give yourself the opportunity to get your work done.
- Have scheduled days off - mental health days are allowed! Being an entrepreneur or small business owner can mean long days...don't forget to take care of yourself.
- Be a system that you can easily work in. Your calendar should be big enough for you to be able to schedule appointments, make notes and track items, if needed (such as mileage). Avoid a small calendar that requires you to write tiny so that you can't understand what you write.
- Schedule your appointments in pencil - this will allow for changes.
Follow your system and watch time reappear!
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