3 effective ways to reduce paperwork and stress
As a busy landscaper who tries to have one paperwork day a week (tries and fails!) or has to complete paperwork in the evenings (most likely) then wouldn’t it be great if you could reduce this never-ending paperwork problem?
First of all, what paperwork am I talking about? Well, everything from quotes, emails to customers, accounts/bookkeeping, calling people back, marketing tasks, invoicing sales …the list goes on. The trouble we all have with paperwork is that a large percentage is not enjoyable but is a must do in our business.
There are many ways we can reduce paperwork for ourselves, but I am focussing today on three that work for me in my landscaping and design business.
- Outsourcing – the first in the list and for me the most important. Your skills lie in landscaping and/or design so I would question why you would take on some paperwork elements yourself.
For me the first tasks outsourced are:
- Accounting and bookkeeping – this includes all elements of tax returns, VAT returns and management accounts. I would highly recommend working with an accountant that will run through your management accounts on a monthly basis to keep you on track with your growth targets and it keeps you focussed on the numbers – which is important. With bookkeeping you can either hire a separate bookkeeper or use your accountant, personally I do the latter in my business.
- Virtual Assistant/Call Answering Service – I use a call answering service for my landscaping business and this is a very low-cost way to make sure every call coming into your business is answered and in a professional way. It also doesn’t impact on when you are working on site – there is nothing worse than having a phone call to interrupt workflow and concentration not to mention do you carry a pen, paper and diary with you to each job? By having this system in place you can get back to the customer later when you are fully prepared and not in the middle of excavating a driveway! When the financials support this I would look at taking on a virtual assistant who can help with lots of your admin, calls etc. I would only look at this if you have a handle on the figures as they are not cheap but are value for money.
- Delegation – are there any day to day tasks that you can delegate to another member of the team? If you have a right-hand man can they order materials? Can they oversee other members of the team? Think about tasks that take you away from what earns you the most money and delegate them where possible.
- CRM system – this is a truly worthwhile system to implement as soon as you can. This will help with the paperwork that builds up around keeping in contact with customers and getting new customers (marketing & sales)
A CRM system is a Customer Relationship Management System and can be free or paid for. What do they do:
Create an epic customer journey (see our topic in the members area for full details) you can create a journey from enquiry to sale to upselling and referral generation just by building automated emails, texts, actions and adding the customers details to the system. It is a brilliant way to continue your admin, marketing and sales activities whilst still out working! It does take some time to set up but once you have set it up it works for you.
If you are confused about what I mean an example is: a customer enquires through your website – their details, go straight into the software and they get a ‘thanks for enquiring’ email automatically sent out. You call them then they get an automatic email after site visit to say ‘thanks for meeting we will have a quote out to you in X days’ then you send the quote and a series of follow up emails designed to get them to buy from you automatically go out every 3-4 days. To get more information on how to do this check out our Create an Epic Customer Journey topic
CRM systems = Mail Chimp, Active Campaign, Sales Force, Infusionsoft and many more. Have a look at them and try the free trials – when you have time to test them! We use Active Campaign and, in the past, have used Mail Chimp and Infusionsoft (when we were a larger business).
- Schedulers & Apps & Software – these will all save you time on paperwork through the social media schedulers so you can schedule posts to go out at various times and days so you can create, schedule and forget about it! To the various apps and software available to make our lives easier!
Schedulers – these are the social media schedulers such as Later or Hootsuite or Facebook Creator Studio, which will post out your pre-written posts when you want. Freeing you up to focus on other things. We recommend batch creating content (see our Instagram topic or blog on social media schedulers) then using a scheduler to schedule the posts for an entire month.
Apps – there are loads of Apps out there that can save you time in your business. A few that I have found good for me and my business is:
- Hub Spot – this is an app that links to your accounting software and instead of putting receipts and invoices in a carrier bag for your bookkeeper/accountant (we have all done it) you take photos of said receipts and invoices through the app and it uploads to your accounts system! You can also email to Hubspot anything that comes in from email and it will take out duplications! This is the app that saves me the most time and paperwork. I can shred all invoices and receipts after putting them on Hubspot and there is no longer the rush at the end of the month to collate all your paperwork to hand over to the accountant.
- Asana – is another app that is great if you have a team. You can create tasks and put deadlines on them and assign to different people. Charlotte and I use this for both, the landscaping company and TLC, it works so well as there is no longer the paperwork of writing everything down and reduced calls to find out what tasks are on and have they been completed yet – we can tick it off via the app. Great for managing staff and also keeping a track of tasks that need to be completed, deadlines and thinking ahead.
- Software – the main paperwork saving software I use is Xero. This is an accounting software that connects to the business bank, I can generate invoices through here, take payment (if set up) and more. Who still uses word documents for invoicing?? There must be a few of you out there, not only does this take more time overwriting a word document each time, you also have to remember to re-name and save and it is way easier to make mistakes. The Xero software is great for invoicing and I use it to run my cashflow, send reminder statements and reporting. Other similar software is Quickbooks. To save paperwork and time could be a design software such as CAD or Sketch Up. There is now so much software available it is great for business.
So if you want to save time on the dreaded paperwork, reduce your stress, save money and time, then start looking at the three points above to see what you can implement in your landscaping and design business today to make tomorrow even better!
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