6 Business Processes To Put On Autopilot Today

Gear up for a new year full of white space by putting these six business processes on autopilot right now.

1. Social media updates

Sit down at the end of each month and create thirty status updates for the next month (one per day).

Set up a Hootsuite account, hook it up with your Facebook and Twitter and schedule your updates.

Make this process even easier by using Timely, a free web application that puts your Twitter and Facebook updates in a queue and automatically sends them out based on the most effective time of day. Get your VA to set up and monitor the account for you.

2. Appointments

Many service-based business owners invite their visitors to set up a complimentary call with them by email.

How about letting them book a time in your calendar? Makes it look like you’re in demand (which you very likely are) and saves you and them the whole ‘I’m free on Wed 3pm and Fri 11am. You?’ dance.

Check out Tungle (free) and Timetrade (around $49 per year), both of which hook up with your Google Calendar.

Take it up one notch and use Setster if you want to collect payment for consulting services automatically after a client made the booking (Setster links up with Google Calendar and PayPal). Plus, Setster gives you a great looking button saying ‘Appointment’ that hovers on the left or right of your website. Scheduling at its best.

3. Contracts

Do you require your clients to sign a contract?

Create a template PDF with space for your new client to fill in (e.g. their name, business address, email). Then set up a free account with Echosign where you upload your template contract and create a widget that can be put on a hidden page on your website. Send the link to your new customer and get them to fill in the blanks and sign the document.

Once the contract is signed, a PDF is emailed to you and your customer to keep. Contract done.

4. Emails

Reclaim your inbox in two easy steps:

Templates

Set up email templates that you keep in a folder in your email program. Copy and paste the template into a new email and amend person-specific details. Send.

If you use Gmail, their nifty Canned Responses do the work for you.

FAQs

Compile the questions customers ask most about your products and services and create a FAQ section on your website. Head off your customer’s questions at the pass by putting your FAQ’s front and center on your Contact page. Bonus points for adding a link to your FAQ page in your email template. 😉

 5. Customer Service

Do you emails with questions about your products or services that are too specific to be answered by your FAQ section?

Set up an account with Zendesk (starts at $9 per month) and have your VA answer those questions for you.

Should a question require your attention, have your VA forward it to your for your response.

6. Payments

Start taking payments online instead of manually invoicing each individual client.

Simply outline your prices and offerings on your website (on a hidden page, if you prefer) and include a PayPal button. No need to waste time on invoice creation and emailing.

Go a step further by hooking up your PayPal account with your email service provider. Upon payment completion, clients will automatically be added to your email list.

Then, set up an email autoresponder that’s sent to welcome your new client. Professional and time saving!

What are you putting on autopilot in 2012? Share it with us in the comments below!

About the author:

Kat Csengo is the former CEO and Chief Virtual Assistant at PaperclipFox.com, a virtual assistant company specializing in online marketing. Kat supports her clients in launching new websites, products and services and assists them in running the daily management of their successful online businesses.

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Kat Csengo

Kat Csengo is the CEO and Chief Virtual Assistant at PaperclipFox.com, a virtual assistant company specializing in online marketing. Kat supports her clients in launching new websites, products and services and assists them in running the daily management of their successful online businesses.

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14 Comments

  1. Dawn Martinello

    I love these older posts Heather! Since this originally made it’s debut, Tungle has decided to retire. I sourced another similar and free service called Time Trade: http://timebridge.com/

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      I read that last week, Dawn. Too bad, I loved Tungle. Thanks for sharing Time Trade! Will definitely check it out. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Rebecca

    I just sat down last night and wrote out status updates for the rest of the month…for me it’s more about creating the habit of posting on a regular basis, and it’s going to make it a lot easier having a page of quick go-to topics & ideas.

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      That’s great, Rebecca! Thanks for sharing with us!

      Reply
  3. L'Erin

    Thanks for this! I signed up for Timely pronto!! ox

    Reply
  4. Julia

    Thank you for pointing me to EchoSign–this is just want I needed. As a freelancer, I love using Toggl (https://www.toggl.com/) to keep track of my time on each client project and each component of a project. It helps me improve my project bids by giving me a clear estimate on how much time it takes to complete each task.

    Reply
  5. Nicole

    I agree with you Anne. 24hour Childcare doesn’t leave alot of room for social media madness, but I happen to love HootSuite because it allows me to schedule things that are important to post in case I don’t get another chance throughout the day. I think that a mixture of both is just fine and does allow for those without traditional time frames to still get information out and be part of the social media community.

    Reply
  6. Selena

    Oh my goodness, thank you! I soooo needed this information as I’m trying to streamline for 2012! Thanks! Heather, do you know how and where I can find a VA?
    thanks

    Reply
  7. Anne Samoilov

    I agree with Heather on the Social media comment. Social media is definitely about being social, but also making sure that you schedule message to keep the content flowing is important too! It beats manually tweeting about your blog posts and remembering to tell people about that ebook you are so proud of!

    Show up and engage, but don’t feel guilty that you schedule some of your messages!

    Reply
  8. Rahul

    For email templates you should check out http://www.toutapp.com/ , which is great and offer tracking and scheduling as well.

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing, Rahul! We’d never seen Toutapp before. It looks great!

      Reply
  9. Kat Gordon

    Great ideas with the exception of #1. Social media is not about auto-pilot. It’s about showing up and engaging. You wouldn’t send someone else (your VA) to pretend to be you at a cocktail party. Nor should you outsource your presence in social media channels. My .02: if you can’t find 15 minutes a day to devote to being part of social media channels, pull the plug on those efforts.

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Hey Kat,
      I agree with you about social media not being completely on autopilot. But I do feel that prescheduling some of your social media is a great supplement to being there yourself. In our case, we’ve written over 500 posts and each day, we try to tweet out a couple of links to some of our oldies but goodies for the folks who may have missed them the first time around, in addition to interacting live with peeps.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! 🙂
      Heather

      Reply

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