This month started with a family emergency that meant I had to go to Holland unexpectedly for some time. It got me thinking about systems and processes in place in a business – especially a very small business where the owner does everything. In a larger business there’s often someone else to take over for a short time but when you’re self-employed it’s all down to you. So how would you deal with being out of action unexpectedly for a few weeks?
These are my tips:
1. Use a call answering service
It means people ringing up still get to speak to a person who can explain what’s going on, take messages, even deal with simple queries (depending on what level of service you have). I use JAM who offer a pay-as-you go service.
2. Automate your marketing
If you have an automated marketing system set up it can send out marketing emails and automated responses; it means you don’t seem out of touch, you can still run campaigns and people will still get information by email. There are many different systems on the market and it’s well worth looking into.
3. Automate your social media
If you use social media to regularly stay in touch with your customers and prospects you want to be posting every day and this can all be automated with systems like Hootsuite. Yes being pre-programmed may take some of the personal element out of it, but it means you’re still there on people’s radar.
4. Use Skype for meetings
You may not be able to attend meetings in person, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss them altogehter. Make sure you’re all set up on Skype so you can still have that talk – it may not be a personal visit but it means you’re keeping in touch and talking, just with Skype instead.
5. Have your systems in the Cloud
If your databases and all your information and material is stored in the Cloud it doesn’t matter where you are, you can access everything and still provide a basic or even full level of service.
Nobody likes emergencies but they happen. At least if you’re set up with these elements your business can carry on functioning until you’re all set again for full steam ahead.