The purpose of automation is to free up time and energy. Push notifications eliminate the need to constantly check all of your apps. Roombas vacuum your house so you don’t have to. Automatic coffee makers let you wake up to the small of fresh coffee, your morning routine already down an item.
In the office, the time freed up by automation can yield greater productivity. Think about many of the routine tasks you complete on a regular basis: responding to coworkers, producing marketing materials, running payroll, etc. The hours devoted to these smaller to-dos can really start to add up. Therefore, the more of this you can automate (effectively), the more time and energy you can devote to more demanding assignments.
At Boxelder, we utilize a variety of programs to automate and optimize our regular processes, and we want to pass along our recommendations to you and your business. Here are six things every small business should automate.
The number-one thing you can do to save time at your business is sign up for Zapier. An easy-to-use workflow-automation tool, Zapier is basically your key to establishing efficient office processes. All you have to do is set up a workflow that performs certain actions (e.g. create new contact) when a trigger is performed (e.g., website user fills out contact form). What makes Zapier so effective, though, is its ability to synchronize more than 2,000 different apps, meaning you can establish a chain of endless action items (e.g. send email alert, send Slack alert, update Smartsheet with new row, etc.) to be automated from a single trigger.
“Send me some times that work for you,” is a message that usually kicks off a chain of, like, 30 emails. Eliminate the back-and-forth by relinquishing all of your scheduling needs to a third-party application. We prefer Calendly, which creates a unique meeting sign-up link for you based on your availability and preferences. Then, you can share that link with clients and coworkers or even embed it directly on your website. And because it integrates with Google, iCal, Office 365, and other calendar tools, you don’t have to worry about double-booking.
Unless you’re Stephen King, writing things takes a long time. Instead of wasting hours composing and revising emails, invest in a communication suite like Slack to accomplish tasks that can be completed through quicker, informal messaging. Your team can create an endless amount of “channels” (e.g. #marketing, #general, #watercooler) to ensure that messages are only being delivered to relevant team members. Basically an instant messaging service for your office, Slack can help streamline your team’s communication needs.
Campaign and Engagement Tracking
Google offers a free suite of tools to help businesses track campaigns and analyze the way clients are interacting with them. With Google Analytics, for instance, you can set KPIs and measure your progress, receive data insights to understand how users behave on your website, and automate regularly produced reports. With Google AdWords, you can create ad campaigns and automate your PPC strategy. You can even make use of Google Alerts for automation — setting up a simple alert will help you know when and where your business is getting mentioned online.
Employees love payroll — business owners, not as much. On top of actually calculating employees’ take home pay, businesses have to file payroll tax returns with the IRS and regularly produce payroll-related financial reports. Fortunately, online payroll services can take care of all of these tasks. We utilize Gusto, a cloud payroll solution popular among small business owners that includes things like fast payroll processing and streamlined employee benefits administration. You can even register for things like workers compensation insurance through Gusto.
Email is one of those tools that can either save you a lot of time or waste a lot of your time, depending on how you use it. We’ve all had those days wherein hours are spent trying to get to Inbox Zero. If you’re not careful, this can consume all of your other tasks. To avoid this, we recommend a few different tools. First, use your CRM to set up an automated lead response whenever a customer fills out a contact form. If you find yourself writing the same response to customers over and over again, set up Canned Responses through Google to create response templates with just one click. Finally, reduce your email influx with SaneBox, which scans your inbox and compiles all non-urgent emails into a weekly or monthly digest.
The team at Boxelder Consulting can provide expert assistance as you attempt to automate your processes. Reach out today to learn more.