As your small business grows, you may find it more and more difficult to stay on top of everything it takes to make it successful. When you introduce automation tools into your business, you’ll be able to improve customer relationship management, stay on top of your inventory, and get your business seen by more potential customers.
With so many automation tools that follow up with customers at specific intervals, order new products when stock is running low, and improve your marketing process, where do you start? Don’t worry, because you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about automating your small business, including what online tools are available to help you simplify your business processes. That way, you can make more money with less effort.
Benefits of automation for your small business
When you automate your business, you’ll be able to transform manual processes so they require less hands-on attention, saving you time, effort, and money. Here are just a few of the benefits of introducing automation tools into your small business.
As an entrepreneur, you’re probably very familiar with how long certain necessary tasks can take. Wouldn’t you rather focus your attention on the big picture than geting tied up with boring repetitive tasks for hours on end? Automation allows you to save time on tasks that can easily be streamlined, so that you can work on the parts of your business that need a more delicate touch.
Improve communication between departments
Even if you have a small team of employees, it’s easy for things to get lost in the mix. Automated systems allow for increased transparency and visibility so that the details of your business processes are visible to the entire team. This way, your employees can track sales and project statuses, update each other, send reminders or prompts, automatically generate and share progress reports, replenish supplies, schedule sales calls, or share relevant customer data between departments. Plus, if something goes wrong along the way, transparency makes it easier to track down where things went astray so that the process can be improved for next time.
Access detailed business performance analytics
Without systems that analyze your customer and sales data, you’re missing out on an integral part of running a successful small business. You won’t be able to determine how well your current processes are working if you don’t take the time to collect and analyze data from your digital marketing campaigns. The access to detailed insights will reduce time wasted on manual tracking and provide access to automatically generate data analysis with suggestions for improvement.
Reduce payroll expenses
Your employees probably spend a lot of time working on things that could easily be automated. Not only does this waste time, it also costs you extra money in the long run. Freeing up your employees’ schedules can increase their work output without increasing your expenses with overtime pay or additional staff. In fact, if you’re looking to cut costs significantly, automation could even allow you to cut payroll costs while maintaining your current level of productivity.
Improve overall efficiency
By introducing an automation system, you can reduce potentially expensive errors caused by manual input, while ensuring you remain compliant with local laws and regulations. Save time, money, and reduce errors so that both you and your employees can focus on the more important parts of your business. Plus, eliminating the need for manual data entry can lead to a better employee work/life balance, which means a happier and more efficient team.
Now that the benefits of automation for your small business have become clear, let’s get into the three different automation opportunities for efficiency with repetitive tasks, operational processes, and customer satisfaction.
Types of automation small businesses should use
There are three different areas of your business where you can apply automation seamlessly. We’ll go over the specific ways you can improve these areas with these business automation tips.
1. Marketing automation
Marketing your business is all about knowing who your target audience is and speaking directly to them every time you reach out with an update or a new offer. Here are a few ideas for introducing marketing automation into your business today.
Social media posts
If you’re not careful, social media can become a huge time suck for your business. But your Instagram profile and Twitter accounts are also probably a great way for you to reach current and potential customers. So how do you make use of the powers of social media without allowing the upkeep to take over your life?
Social media automation tools allow you to schedule posts in advance, access insights to help you improve your performances, and help you develop a personalized content plan so that you can stay consistent.
People are more likely to buy from a brand that they recognize, and the easiest way to get people to recognize your brand is by getting your ads in front of them. That means setting up advertisements in a variety of locations where your ideal customers will be, so continued exposure to your company leads to familiarity and brand recognition. Advertising automation helps you target the right people. That way, your paid ads lead to results, rather than just becoming an added expense on top of all the costs of running your own small business.
If you haven’t already started an email list, now is the time. Email automations will help you coordinate email marketing campaigns in advance and access analytics. Tracking the performance of your emails allows you to make improvements based on fact rather than guesswork. Besides converting passive email subscribers into paying customers, email automation can also help improve customer retention. Try setting up a campaign that sends follow up emails at regular intervals with relevant offers or personalized check-ins based on your customers’ purchase history.
If your small business gets a lot of questions, installing a chatbot on your website means customers never have to wait to get in touch with a customer service representative. Your chatbot can immediately answer questions, help resolve issues, suggest relevant promotions, and escalate the report to your customer service department as needed.
When you use lead management automations, you’ll be able to keep your new and ongoing leads organized into categories based on the type of content they are interested in receiving. This will help you target them with relevant offers. Lead management automation software can also record any interactions with each lead, and some systems even assign a score based on the likelihood of leads turning into paying customers.
2. Operations automation
In business, operations refer to the activities that drive the core functions of a company. Many of these processes still rely on manual data entry or other administrative tasks that can easily be automated to save time, resources, and increase company efficiency.
Finding new employees and going through multiple phases in the hiring process can take a lot of time. Automated resume screening will help you avoid following up and interviewing potential employees who don’t fit the basic job requirements. You can also introduce other pre-qualification measures that will benefit your business and enhance the candidate experience. Automated recruiting can improve the quality of your hires by ensuring they are a good fit through multiple levels of screening, while decreasing the amount of work for recruiters or your human resources department. Another enormous benefit is that recruiting automation can help eliminate bias in the hiring process.
Payroll and timesheets
Try using online timesheets so that employees can report their hours and have that information automatically input into the payroll system, leaving less room for error. All taxes and benefits will also be calculated and subtracted, and you can set up your paycheques to be distributed to employees automatically.
Call centre scripting and escalations
Generally, call centre employees rely on a script, so operations software that automatically feeds customer data into the scripts allows for a more efficient and streamlined process. It can also automatically recommend upsell opportunities and check account details like customer warranties. This software will also be able to recognize when the issue can’t be resolved with an automated script and escalate it to a manager.
3. Sales automation
Automation can help with your sales processes by streamlining tasks like administrative work, reducing response time, and ensuring your sales leads don’t fall through the cracks due to human error.
Sales progress mapping
If you want to get a clear overview of how your business is performing over time, automated sales forecasts can help you track sales and measure progress to determine how well a given product sells.
Automatically send follow-up emails and reminders based on your customers’ previous purchases or when they express interest in a particular product. You can also set up automated reminders for your sales representatives to check in with your customers personally, so clients feel valued as individuals.
Sales transactions can be automated to complete credit checks, finalize transactions, and automate invoicing in your business.
Introducing automations to your contract management systems can help ensure that your contracts are compliant, facilitate esignatures, automate your digital workflow and contract drafting, and even set reminders about contract deadlines and renewals.
Use automation to auto-fill proposal or contract fields while staying in compliance with company pricing, discounts, and special offer rules. This will allow you to avoid tedious, repetitive, time-consuming work and speed up the process.
Now that you know all about how to use automation processes in your small business, you’ll be able to increase productivity and efficiency to save time and money in the long run.
This article offers general information only, is current as of the date of publication, and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.