Running a business is a lot like running up the down escalator. If you pause for a moment, you won’t be standing still. You’ll be going backwards, and fast.
You need to be constantly on the lookout for new ways to streamline your business management processes. And you must improve your business growth. This is because if you aren’t growing, you’re going down.
As we move into the home stretch of 2019, it’s a good time to assess your company’s processes. Also assess your management techniques. Then you can gather a few new tactics. And make them even stronger and more powerful.
Up Your SMB Management Game
Here are five ways to raise your game as a small business leader.
1. Automate, Automate, Automate
Automation is key to efficiency in every business. But that goes double for small businesses. Here each employee has to punch above their weight.
Bringing in automated tools frees up your employees. They can then dedicate more time to those tasks that can only be performed by a human. This helps to increase efficiency, decrease costs and boost customer satisfaction,
The best areas to automate include:
- Accounting and financial management tools like FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and Wave automate some of the most annoying and time-consuming business tasks, like preparing and sending invoices and chasing up late payments.
- Expense tracking software like Expensify and Zoho Expense can automate expense approvals and reports.
- Project management tools like Trello and Monday help you assign tasks, follow progress, and automate individual and group reminders to make sure that you always meet deadlines.
- Social media management tools like Falcon and AgoraPulse can automatically flag any mention of your business, and automate scheduled posting around the clock to your social media feeds.
- Email marketing software like Mailchimp and aWeber let you set up automated drip campaigns.
2. Make It Easy to Book Your Services
You don’t want there to be any obstacles for your customers to overcome in order to book your business, but a small business doesn’t have the resources to man booking lines around the clock.
Fortunately, online scheduling software means that you can place a booking button on your website, so that customers can check your calendar, schedule appointments, and book your services immediately. They don’t have to pick up the phone, or wait for you to respond to their message.
Don’t stop there! You can place a booking button on your Facebook page, and even in your “Google My Business” entry. vCita’s booking software is an approved partner for Google, offers apps and plugins for WordPress and Wix sites, and has an easy API, making it simple to insert booking buttons at every touchpoint. You can also use it to collect prepayments, issue invoices and follow up with customers.
3. Go Big on Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is the new customer engagement, because engaged employees are more productive and deliver better customer service. It’s just as important in a small business where you can’t afford high employee turnover and each employee matters, so you need everyone to bring their all.
Increasing employee engagement is a multi-faceted process:
- Delegate as much as possible and avoid micromanaging
- Encourage good communication between everyone in the business, using a system like Slack or WhatsApp.
- Keep all your employees in the loop by sharing KPIs, celebrating achievements, and acknowledging setbacks.
- Use new apps and tools for small businesses, like Bitrix24, Hi5, and Reward Gateway, to set up incentive systems, rewards hierarchies, and bonuses.
It’s also important to show appreciation for your employees’ hard work. Research has found that 21.5% of workers who don’t feel that their work was recognized have interviewed for a job in the past three months, as opposed to 12.4% of workers who do feel recognized.
4. Deliver on Customer Service
A successful business is all about the relationship. In 2020, no one is going to wait until customer service lines open at 9am tomorrow; they want answers now.
The good news is that AI is here to help you out with chatbots. Chatbots are the new FAQ section, providing fast answers to customer questions as well as guiding leads to book an appointment, choose a product, return an item, check on holiday opening hours, and more.
Chatbots aren’t just for big business anymore; new apps and plugins like HubSpot Chatbot Builder simplify things to a level that SMBs can afford. Build chatbots in Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and Telegram, as well as embedding them in your business website to provide personalized service round the clock.
5. Streamline Your Social Media Marketing
Social media is a powerful force, with over half of social media users turning to it to research products and services. It’s not just for millennials, either, as 77.5% of Gen X and 48.2% of baby boomers are online, according to eMarketer.
However, the domination of Facebook and Twitter is long gone. Your potential customers are on every channel, and it’s difficult for a small business to cover them all.
Instead of scatter spraying, consult social media marketing statistics to help you choose which platform to focus your efforts, what type of content to share, and how to time your social media posts for maximum impact at minimum cost.
Tightening Your Game Keeps You Ahead of the SMB Pack
The business market is getting more competitive and cutthroat every year, but these tactics can tighten your business management and keep your company ahead.
Streamlining social media, making it easy for customers to make a booking, automating business processes wherever possible, and delivering excellence in both customer service and employee engagement are best practices that set SMBs up for success in 2020.