When I attended the "Scaling New Heights 2016" conference in the Bahamas this year, I brought along my list of things to discuss, learn, compare, ask and pain points in hope of enlightenment and direction from my peers. What I found when I started conversing with colleagues was that everyone was experiencing the same or similar issues.
I quickly realized that we were commiserating – not solving any problems. I realized at that moment what I needed to do. I had known all along, but I wasn't sure enough of myself to act on it. The things that I'd been told and taught, and the tools I already had learned were right in front of me. I needed to confidently move in the direction I had been going all along. I had to start somewhere or I would never get there from here.
No. 1 – Checklists
These are something so simple, yet such a daunting task. Write down the things you do in a day or a week. It’s okay if you don’t capture everything, but hit the high points. Take the most similar items, and then jot down the high level tasks. They don’t have to be completed in a day, but take the first step. While the checklist will evolve and be different for most clients, a template is the first step in systematizing your work and projects.
No. 2 – Onboarding
Create a basic form, whether it can be completed on paper or online, to get the primary customer data you refer to almost daily. Use this information to update your contact list, CRM application and billing details. Once you have the basic form, build from there by creating an intake sheet to capture the notes and details from your first meetings. You often learn more from clients in the initial “getting-to-know-you” meeting than at any other time. Jot those details down, so you can remember them later to let your customers know you were listening. Allow your forms and data tools to grow from there. That first step is crucial to creating a dynamic onboarding process that your whole team can benefit from.
No. 3 – Workflow
Invest in a program that manages your workflow to ensure that all work gets completed, deadlines get met and nothing falls through the cracks. Using a process for internal communication and managing client requirements will provide accountability for you and your team. It offers certainty to employees that they're focusing on the needs of the customer, and creates confidence for them to realize milestones and achievement goals.
No. 4 – Technology
Embrace the technology that can foster a more productive, efficient and effective work environment for your business and, ultimately, satisfy your customers' needs. Utilizing accessible tools to streamline processes, eliminate data entry and work smarter will provide the opportunity to focus on advising clients to realize greater success in operations.
Leah Welsh, founder and owner of Strategic Accounting Solutions LLC, has a knack for saving her small business clients from the headaches and hassles of bookkeeping, QuickBooks and payroll. With 25 years of experience, Leah offers professional and personalized accounting services to small businesses in and near Helena, Mont., so the business owners can focus on running their businesses.