By now you may have heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin “Time is Money”, a common phrase among business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate execs who understand that a person’s time is like money. It’s extremely valuable and it needs to be spent wisely.
Wisely, however, is subjective and can mean something different for each person. The key here is knowing how to SAVE time, so that you can ultimately get more hours back, regardless if you decide to use them working on your business, or taking the day off to soak up the sun at the beach.
As a business owner, I find it’s a mix of both. There are days I need to set aside valuable time to work ON my business and there are days where I want to embrace entrepreneur life and enjoy the nice weather. In order to do this, I have to make sure I’m maximizing my work and finding ways to save time in all the actions I perform when working with clients.
Now, let me introduce you to the idea of the Workflow. In simple terms, a Workflow contains all the steps needed to take your client from being a lead, to project completion. Sometimes Workflows are partially or fully automated (leveraging a Client Management System), making the process even more streamlined. But the goal of the Workflow is to standardize your processes and save time in your business, while also building in a great client experience.
So if you find yourself short on time and wanting to gain back some hours, here are four Steps to creating your Workflow so that you can start saving time!
Outline your Workflow.
The first thing you want to do is to identify all the Steps you take when working with a client. This step is my favorite because it allows you to take some time and really understand how you get your clients from lead – to completed project. You really want to try and dig deep into your process and pull out all the details, even if it seems small. For example, if part of your process involves sending them a welcome package in the mail during on-boarding, you need to include that in your workflow.
Keep in mind that you may need to do this for each service or product you offer as the workflow or process may be different. For example, as a Brand Photographer, I have a Workflow for clients who choose to invest in a full brand photography session and a Workflow for those who are coming into my studio for just a headshot.
Determine your Assets.
Now for each Step that you’ve identified in your Workflow, you now need to determine what assets are needed to complete that Step. For example, if your first Step is to send a proposal and contract to your client the assets needed are: Proposal Template, Contract Template and an Email Template which will go along with these assets when you send them over to your client.
Create your Assets.
Once you know all the assets needed for each Step within your Workflow, you now need to set aside some time to make sure all those assets are created and/or templated out. In the example above, this would mean you need to prepare and create your Proposal Template, your Contract Template and your Email Template. If you are working with a Client Management System (CMS), you would create these templates within that software program. If you are not using a CMS, you can simply create these documents in the program of your choice and template out emails in your email service provider.
The goal with these pre-created and templated assets is to help you save time as you take a Client through your Workflow. For example, when I’m ready to send that Proposal and Contract to my next client, I can simply take the template and update it with my Client’s Information and attach it to my already templated-out email to go along with it.
Putting it all together.
Now that you have all your Workflow Steps outlined, the assets identified and prepared for each Step, it’s time to organize your Workflow. One benefit of using a CMS, such as Honeybook, Dubsado, 17 Hats, etc. it has the ability to house all of your assets in one place allowing you to easily attach them to each Step of your Workflow. Most of these programs allow you to customize how much automation you want with each Step. For example, you may want to automatically send a booking link to potential clients so they can schedule a call with you. This helps save you time in having to manually do this yourself and allows your potential client to receive a timely response from you!
A CMS can be very helpful in automating a lot of tasks you do within your Workflow. However, depending on where you are in business, you may not have the volume of clients to justify the cost of a CMS. In that case, you can leverage free tools such as Google Sheets, Google Forms, Google Docs, and Gmail to create a Workflow process and templates. For example, you could outline and create your Steps with Google Sheets, and leverage Google Forms to create questionnaires and intake forms, and Gmail to template out your emails.
Whether you are using a CMS or leveraging existing programs or free tools available to you, you can create your Workflow, streamline your client experience, and get valuable time back into your business.