All posts by Jason Barnes

7 Ways to Make Your Waiting Room Cozier This Fall

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7 Ways to Make Your Waiting Room Cozier This Fall

Your waiting room is the place where you make a first impression on your customers. There’s nothing worse than walking into a dirty, unkempt, and unwelcoming waiting area. For whatever reason people find themselves in such a room, it should feel like a safe space for what’s next. Waiting rooms are an opportunity to make your clients feel well cared for and valued.

Are you looking to create a more pleasant waiting room experience for your customers this fall? Instead of going full-blown pumpkin patch, create a cozy, simple environment with these tips:

1. Change up outdated seasonal elements.

The season has turned, so replace the summer magazines with fall ones. Take down the beach artwork and hang up some fall-themed artwork instead. Keep decorations cool and classy by opting for smaller, muted-colored elements instead of large, colorful pieces. Swap out your summer throw pillows and rug for a fall-feeling oasis.

It should go without saying that you need to keep your waiting room clean. But customers will like seeing that your business goes the extra mile to update the space along with the seasons.

2. Add some light fall scents.

An inviting space should engage all your customers’ senses, so don’t neglect the sense of smell. From fallen leaves to cloves and cinnamon, the aromas of fall are a delight, so consider adding these scents to your waiting room.

That said, be sure to select ones that account for people with sensitivities to strong fragrances. You want your waiting room to be pleasant and inviting, not headache-triggering. Lightly spray the room each morning before customers arrive or place reed diffusers around the room with a popular fall scent.

3. Create a kids corner.

Get creative with your kids’ corner in the fall. Have fall-themed activities to keep children busy in a designated area. Ditch the vacation-themed coloring books and replace them with pumpkins and farm animal pages. Opt for washable markers to ensure your young visitors’ artistic efforts don’t become permanent features of the space.

Create a specific project kids can do and display the results in the kids’ corner when they’re complete. You might, for example, ask children to write what they’re thankful for on a leaf-shaped cutout. Or connect the activity to your business: print coloring pages with a pumpkin dressed as a lawyer or a scarecrow holding a stethoscope. Remember to have a staff member tidy the corner up throughout the day to keep things neat.

4. Consider warmer lighting.

Say you manage a doctor’s or dentist’s office. Sure, people are there for medical care, but your waiting room shouldn’t make them feel like they’re already on the exam table. Bright white fluorescent lighting might be the default in most business settings, but it’s hardly your only option.

To warm up your waiting area, consider lighting alternatives that would make your visitors feel more welcome. Try yellow lights, Edison light bulbs, or lamp lighting around the room. A golden glow equals a perfect fall day.

5. Offer seasonal treats and refreshments.

Fall is harvest time, so treat your customers to the bounty of the season by offering seasonal refreshments. This can be as simple as setting out a basket of fresh fruit, such as apples or pears. If you’re feeling more ambitious, provide individually wrapped pastries made with recently harvested fruits. Fall-themed granola or trail mix is an easy on-the-go snack.

Once the weather starts cooling down, offer beverage options besides water and coffee. Hot tea, apple cider, or cocoa will warmly welcome your customers and make your space smell delicious.

6. Bring in plants.

For an instant homey feeling, add a few low-maintenance plants to your waiting area. Use fall-colored pots to bring warmth to the area. No window? No worries. Plants like pothos and philodendrons will thrive in little to no sunlight in the autumn weather. Not only do they make your waiting room more inviting, but these plants provide additional oxygen in your space.

Not into having to water plants but open to fresh flowers? Grocery stores usually have beautiful fall bouquets filled with red and orange hues that scream fall. Pick up a bouquet once a week to add to the coffee table, adding instant life and a focal point to the room.

7. Establish a clear and friendly check-in process.

Cozy doesn’t just mean a snuggly blanket. To feel comfortable, visitors must feel welcome. By greeting clients with a smiling face, you’re already creating a welcoming check-in process.

While they’re checking in, mention the autumnal treats they can help themselves to. If they have children in tow, point out the fall-themed activities in your kids corner. In case your front desk staff gets busy, clear signage can instruct arriving clients on the check-in process so they don’t stand around awkwardly.

By creating a cozier environment, you will usher in a positive customer service experience for your clients. Through thoughtful snacks, lighting, and scents, you’ll show that you pay close attention to detail. This will resonate with your clients and convince them they’ve come to the right place for their service. First impressions matter, and you’ll be off to a great start by following these tips.

Featured Image Credit: Curtis Adams; Pexels.com. Thank you!

5 Tips for Encouraging Team Collaboration

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encouraging team collaboration

Collaboration has become a popular trend in the workplace, especially as it offers many benefits. For one, it helps employees feel more connected to one another. Working together as a team can also breed new ideas and enhance creativity, positively impacting your business and employees.

With that said, collaboration doesn’t always come naturally.

Not every company is set up to make working as a team a priority. Not to mention, with remote working, it can be difficult to connect in a meaningful way. This brief article can help. Here are five tips to encourage team collaboration.

1. Integrate the Right Technology

In today’s remote work environment, there’s a good chance your workers are spread out. Because of that, collaborating might not come as naturally.

It makes sense; communicating and forming connections can be difficult virtually. But there are ways you can make this easier for your team. Consider integrating technology that can help teams come together regardless of where they’re located.

For example, a communication platform, like Slack, ensures employees can chat, call, and even video call one another from anywhere. Project management platforms, like Asana and Monday.com, make it easy for teams to track and manage their projects online.

Having the right technology can go a long way in encouraging your team to work together. It can also help streamline tasks, and in turn, help your business grow.

Just make sure you do your research before adopting any type of technology to ensure it’ll work for your team.

2. Focus on Company Culture

Do you want your team to work together? Make sure that’s reflected within your company culture.

According to research, almost 50% of active job seekers say a company’s culture plays a role in why they’re looking for a new job. Creating a company culture that focuses on collaboration, honesty, and transparency can help you attract and retain the right employees.

There are several reasons why employees might not work jointly.

Sure, working remotely can play a role. But if your employees don’t feel valued or important, they’re less likely to share their ideas. On the other hand, when employees feel like their opinions matter, they might welcome the chance to collaborate with their teammates.

One way to create this type of company culture is to lead by example. Make sure you’re cooperative with the rest of the leadership team as well as your employees. Have an open door policy, and make it clear that you respect and want to hear from your team.

3. Set Clear Expectations

The first step to encouraging team collaboration is to set clear expectations.

You need to make it clear to employees that you expect them to work with one another. After all, how can they make this a goal if they were never told to?

Consider discussing the importance of collaboration during the interview process or while you’re onboarding new hires. The sooner you prioritize teamwork, the more likely your employees are to adapt to this mindset.

Integrating technology, as mentioned above, is a great start. With that said, having this software is just one step.

It’s also important your employees know that software exists and how to use it. This might mean scheduling a meeting with your team detailing how to use the technology. You could also create a step-by-step guide and send it out via email.

It’s crucial employees have the resources and the education needed to collaborate effectively.

4. Encourage Team Bonding

On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable do you feel working with people you don’t know? Many people answer that question with a low number. That’s often because it can be scary to share ideas with strangers.

To help your employees feel more comfortable, consider hosting regular team bonding events.

These could be company-wide or something you request supervisors do with their specific teams. Either way, it’ll provide employees the chance to connect. And don’t worry, these events can be also hosted virtually thanks to video calls. All you have to do is find a time and send an invite to get everyone together.

If you’re struggling to come up with team bonding activities, keep it simple. Your employees are busy, so having hour-long team bonding activities multiple times a week isn’t a good idea. On the other hand, scheduling a team bonding activity for an hour each month could work well.

5. Offer Praise

According to research, about 80% of employees say they feel better when recognized in the workplace.

It’s no secret that praise can help employees feel happier. The happier an employee the more productive they are at work.

You might be wondering exactly what this has to do with team collaboration. It’s simple really.

If you want your team to work together more often, consider praising those who do. For instance, maybe a group of co-workers got together to brainstorm an idea that ended up working well. Take the time to congratulate them.

You could even do it publicly, as that can help employees feel more recognized. This could be during a team meeting or on a designated board. This can boost morale and reinforce the importance of collaboration with your other workers.

Having a team that successfully works together in the workplace is an essential part of helping your company succeed. However, it’s not always easy to enforce, especially in today’s work-from-home environment. Luckily, the tips above can help.

Image Credit: Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thanks! 

5 Tips for Keeping Your Patient Waiting Room Clean

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keep waiting room clean

As a member of medical practice, you know how important it is to put the health and safety of your patients first. You wouldn’t have gotten into the industry otherwise!

But there’s more to promoting your patients’ health than diagnosing and treating their ailments. You also need to prevent them from coming into contact with germs while they’re in your care. In this article, we share tips for keeping your waiting room clean and your patients happy and healthy.

1. Schedule Regular Cleanings

It’s incredibly important to schedule regular cleanings for your waiting room — and to post that schedule. This practice can both slow the spread of potential infections and assure patients of your commitment to sanitation. Evidence of your waiting room’s cleanliness will help them feel comfortable and relaxed.

To start, take the time to create a medical office cleaning checklist. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with exactly what needs to be cleaned in your waiting room. Make sure you focus on items that see the most contact, such as door handles, check-in areas, pens, tablets, chairs, etc. If your waiting room is kid-friendly, don’t forget to wipe down children’s toys and books.

If you plan to have a cleaning service come in, share this checklist with them. Or maybe your team will do a majority of the work. If that’s the case, you should also create a cleaning schedule to ensure everything is getting done throughout the day. Many medical offices are closed for a few hours during lunchtime; this could be a great time to give your waiting room a cleaning.

2. Reconsider Your Furnishings

Chances are, your waiting room offers amenities for patients. Maybe you have magazines and newspapers laid out on the table. Or perhaps you purchased upholstered furniture, like overstuffed chairs and couches, to keep patients comfortable.

While you probably meant well, some of your furnishing choices might make it hard to keep your waiting room clean. For instance, those cloth-upholstered chairs may be difficult to disinfect. Replacing them with vinyl seating that is easy to wipe down will improve cleanliness.

If your chairs and sofas are bulky, it will be hard to keep them well-spaced. You want to avoid having patients sit right next to each other. Regardless of why a patient is coming to see you, there’s always a chance they could spread infection. Consider swapping oversized furniture with more streamlined chairs that don’t take up as much room. This will allow you to spread them out — and the more space between patients in the waiting room, the better.

3. Encourage Patients to Take COVID-19 Precautions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 tracker shows nearly 108,000 new cases of the virus daily from July to August 2022. And while vaccines help to keep serious illness at bay, the coronavirus can still be harmful. Research has found the virus may produce long-term effects.

To help keep patients safe, stock your waiting room with COVID safety essentials like hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and face masks. You want to make sure these necessities are clearly visible, so consider keeping them where patients check in. Alternatively, you could place them on a coffee table in the waiting room.

To persuade people to use these items, you could place a sign reminding them of the importance of taking COVID precautions. More importantly, you and your team should model this behavior yourselves.

4. Consider Separating Your Waiting Rooms

Instead of having all your patients sit in one waiting room, consider having multiple rooms or designated spaces. For example, one waiting room could be designated for those who aren’t feeling well. Maybe they’re waiting to get tested for COVID or have flu-like symptoms. Your second waiting room could be for those who feel fine but are there for something routine, like a physical.

If you have the space, consider having a separate area for children to play. While this isn’t a necessity, it will keep your waiting room clean of toys. If your space isn’t big enough for separate rooms, use dividers as a way to create different areas. Even just separating the sick from the healthy can go a long way in preventing germs from spreading.

5. Be Strategic About Appointments

As a medical professional, your goal is to help people. It’s no wonder you may try to see as many patients as you can during the day. Unfortunately, that could make it difficult to keep your waiting room clean. Instead of overscheduling, be mindful of appointments and how many people are in your waiting room at a given time. This is especially true if your waiting room is on the smaller side.

A good rule of thumb is to first determine the maximum number of people you want to have in a waiting room at once. From there, create time blocks for each appointment to ensure you never go over that number. Using an online scheduler will make this process easier, as you can automate available appointment slots based on your time blocks.

Keeping your waiting room clean should be a top priority. It can help prevent germs from spreading and will make your patients feel more comfortable. Remember, first impressions matter. A clean waiting room ensures the appointment starts on the right foot and can help you retain patients long-term.

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5 Methods Your Employees Can Start Using for Better Time Management

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better time management

Companies have training regimens in place that help onboard new hires as quickly as possible. More often than not, company mandated training focuses on hard skills required to perform daily tasks. While it’s important to know what you’re doing when filling a role, soft skills shouldn’t be overlooked.

One of the most important and impactful soft skills is that of time management. There are workers out there who might not have hard skills developed in their trade just yet, but excel at managing how they use their time. These employees typically have a much higher capacity than their peers.

Time management can be taught. As a business leader, you should make an effort to help your employees, both new and old, to improve how they use their time. These five methods can be introduced to them with that goal in mind:

1. Weekly Planning

An old adage reads as follows: failing to plan is planning to fail. There is a lot of truth in that statement. While a plan might not be carried out exactly as listed, it’s the preparation that’s important. Entering each new week with ample preparation makes it much easier to ultimately use your time wisely.

If you know when all of your upcoming meetings and deadlines are, you can better plan around them. You’ll know just when you can check your emails, return some phone calls, and finish up a marketing pitch. Without weekly planning, you’ll be in more of a scramble. This leads to a lot of stress and burnout among employees.

2. Task Prioritization

Another soft skill that tends to get overlooked is learning how to prioritize a task list. Each daily task has its own size and importance. Much like a puzzle, the fastest way to finish is by deciding where to start and figuring out which pieces go where.

A common way to approach task prioritization is the Eisenhower Matrix. Named after the former U.S. President, this method can help even the least experienced learn how to prioritize effectively. The matrix consists of four quadrants based on their importance and urgency. Tasks of high importance and great urgency are moved to the top of the to-do list.

This is a simple way to quickly determine which tasks should be first on the schedule. With a prioritized list, employees can manage their time more effectively while completing the most important tasks.

3. Calendar Upkeep

Few things help with time management like a good old fashioned calendar. Digital calendars in particular are very helpful for tracking and planning your time. You can create and edit a variety of events whether they’re work-related or personal.

Company calendars are helpful but can only get you so far. A personal calendar can be customized to fit the needs of the user. For example, if one of your employees needs numerous reminders to stay on top of their schedule, a personal calendar can be equipped to do so.

A personal calendar can also help employees learn time management skills outside of work. If workers can implement time management strategies with parenting, hobbies, and daily routines, they can come to the office better prepared for a busy day.

4. Task Management

There is such a thing as trying to do too much. Companies that overload their employees can’t expect them to be very effective or efficient. This is something you can work on as a manager. However, even if you provide the best working conditions possible, employees should still learn how to manage their capacity.

Let your employees know that they won’t be penalized for using their time off or focusing on work-life balance. This is something you should both enable and encourage. Happy, well-rested employees will work much harder and much more effectively than they would otherwise.

One method you can consider is enabling remote work or hybrid work. Employees who work from home often have an easier time balancing their work with the rest of their lives. Instead of continuing to overload their schedule, time with family can easily take place.

5. Goal Setting

Time management is often easier to tackle when you have a goal set in mind. Goals with designated deadlines give you a greater sense of resolve. Instead of running on autopilot, you’ll be more motivated to manage your time in pursuit of the goals you’ve set.

In some roles or particular times of year there aren’t many goals that get assigned by others. In these cases, employees need to learn how to set their own goals. If they can create that sense of urgency and direction, they will have more motivation to manage their time in order to reach said goals.

Let’s use a sales team as an example. If they’re compensated by commission, they’ll only be paid as often as they close. Setting personal goals for sales numbers will force them to manage their time to make things happen.

Time management can be taught. Set the example, and provide your team with the tools they need. Improved time management can allow them to get their jobs done in less time with greater satisfaction.

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Prioritize Employee Health This Summer With These Apps

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prioritize employee health

Ever since the first wave of COVID-19, people have been more conscious about their health. From getting vaccinated to watching their weight, Americans are more focused than ever on getting healthy. Unfortunately, prioritizing health can be a major challenge for workers facing a busy summer.

As a business owner, you’re responsible for a lot of things. You need to maintain a profitable business, satisfy customers, and continue to move your organization forward. Another high priority should be your employees and their personal health.

What you need to do as an employer is enable your workers to be able to prioritize their health. They should be able to do this even on a busy work schedule. This list of health-centered apps can be a part of your strategy. Teach — or even incentivize — your employees to use these apps, and you’ll have a happier, healthier team clocking in each day.

Appointment

A big part of prioritizing health is devoting time to it. Some employees might procrastinate on things like health check-ups and doctor’s appointments because they’re afraid to miss work. Your job as an employer is to help your employees make time for their personal health.

Appointment is a program that helps companies manage meetings with clients, employees, and potential investors. Employers can use this app to block off time for workers to make it to their personal appointments. Schedules and meetings can be adjusted to accommodate their needs.

Your personal calendar will be synced with Appointment, so you can keep tabs on any changes. Let your employees know that you want to enable their health needs and use an app like this to make it possible.

Daily Water Tracker Reminder

Hydration is something you can easily do throughout the day, even while at work. Drinking water helps regulate body temperature, fight off illnesses, and improve cognition. This will help employees both at work and at home.

Staying hydrated is as simple as remembering to drink. A simple app such as the Daily Water Tracker Reminder can help out your team. This program is free for both Apple and Android devices. Users create personalized goals and track their water intake. The app helps keep you accountable to your goals and helps you visualize the progress made over time.

The amount of water you should drink varies from person to person. Different weights, heights, and levels of activity can contribute to a wide range of hydration goals. Employers can reward team members that meet their goals, wherever they are set, in an effort to boost hydration within the organization.

Strava

You can’t talk about health without mentioning the need for exercise. Daily exercise helps with blood flow and burns fat and calories. Strengthening your muscles also contributes to better stamina throughout the day, even if you work while seated at a desk.

There are numerous apps centered on exercise, but Strava has some features that stand out from the rest. For starters, it’s frequently referred to as the “social network for athletes.” Strava provides a platform for you to share workouts, photos, and comments with a global community. You can create a work-based community within the app to motivate your team to exercise together.

Strava focuses on running and cycling. Coworkers can share their favorite routes and even compete in monthly distance competitions. Perhaps your team could even train together to participate in a local race.

MyFitnessPal

You are what you eat, or so they say. Eating healthy isn’t always fun, but it can drastically turn your life around. A balanced diet provides more energy, can save you money, and better protects you from getting sick.

One way to start eating better is to use a food tracking app like MyFitnessPal, available on both Apple and Android. You can manually input meals or scan barcodes to track everything you eat. MyFitnessPal helps you count calories and balance your diet.

The app is free, but there’s a premium version with additional features worth considering. Your company could add this as an employee benefit, reimbursing the cost of a monthly premium subscription to employees wishing to use the app. This will help them get healthier and happier without money being a contributing factor.

Headspace

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Employees who are in a better mental health state are more engaged and productive while at work. Prioritizing mental health as an employer will also boost employee satisfaction and retention rates.

There are numerous apps that focus on different aspects of mental health. One of the most highly recommended is Headspace. It has nearly one million reviews in the Apple Store with a 4.8 overall rating. It can guide you through breathing exercises, meditation, and sleep routines.

Headspace requires a subscription, which can also be implemented into your company’s benefits package. The cost of a monthly subscription can easily pay itself off, if it makes your employees happier and more productive. Consider trying it out for yourself as well to see how big of a difference it makes.

When your workers are happy, you’ll be happy. Making their health a priority this summer might be one of the best moves your business makes this year. Start the movement today.

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How to Know When It’s Time to Give Your Employees a Break

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give employees a break

It’s important to give employees a break. For businesses that rely on a skilled, functional group of employees — and what business doesn’t? — maintaining a happy team is essential. You might think hiring quality individuals and offering competitive wages and benefits should be sufficient for lowering turnover and keeping your employees content.

Unfortunately, competitive compensation sometimes isn’t enough to prevent a devastating condition from affecting your team’s productivity. That condition is burnout, and it can cause severe internal headaches if left unaddressed.

To prevent employee burnout from becoming a problem in your workplace, make sure to catch the signs early on. Here are several ways you can monitor your employees’ state of mind and support their workplace well-being.

1. Check In With Your Employees Often

The best and easiest way to see how your team is doing is to ask them. While that might seem like a no-brainer, some businesses don’t take the necessary time to do so. If you judge your team’s state of mind purely by how productive they’re being, burnout could be widespread before you notice the problem.

So how do you check in your workers in a way that is useful and doesn’t come across as overly invasive? The best way is to have regular reviews or surveys embedded into your internal procedures across the board. That way, communication is ongoing and happens on an expected, recurring schedule.

There are definitely some pros and cons to both surveys and reviews. Surveys give your employees the opportunity to strongly consider their responses to questions before submitting them. Also, in the case of larger teams, they allow a lot of data to be easily collected and compiled. However, the questions-and-answer format doesn’t lend itself well to larger conversations on problem solving.

Reviews tend to be more time-consuming but open up a dialogue about any struggles an employee might be having. For these to be successful, however, supervisors must create an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable honestly expressing concerns. Supervisors should be trained to look for signs of cynicism, which can be a major indicator of burnout. Additionally, it can be a sure-fire sign to give these employees a break.

Frequency of reviews will vary depending on your team’s size, but at a bare minimum, they should occur annually. For a more intensive review timeline, set a semi-annual or quarterly schedule.

2. Be Flexible When Possible

Few things contribute to burnout like stagnation. When employees don’t feel like they’re working toward advancement or a change, the potential for workplace apathy is very real. If your workers are expressing frustration at the same day-to-day routines with no end in sight, it’s time to consider other options.

In cases where there’s not a clear advancement path for an employee experiencing burnout, you can explore lateral moves. By having a conversation with workers about their interests, you can attempt to find other positions for them within their skill sets. For example, an outside sales representative might be able to move to an inside sales position with relative ease. Alternatively, a department supervisor might have the knowledge and experience for certain human resources responsibilities.

Even offering support for continuing education to facilitate an internal position change can be worth the investment. With the surprisingly high price of turnover, spending the money to diversify an employee’s skill set is oftentimes very cost-effective. Not only can this increase their happiness, but it also gives employees a nice break from their standard day to day tasks.

Of course, internal transfers aren’t always possible. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees may not have as much flexibility in terms of position movement. But if your company does have this ability and capacity, it can be presented as an option during employee reviews.

3. Offer Appreciated Perks

Any perks you can provide to break up the day-to-day grind will generally be appreciated by your staff. These can be as minor as a midday pizza party or as elaborate as a full-office weekend event with families included.

The biggest consideration regarding perks is whether or not your staff will value them. Going back to the previous point about data collection, the easiest way to figure out what your employees appreciate is simply to ask them.

Therefore, if you conduct a regularly recurring survey, include questions regarding potential perks and rewards. You can do so in an open-ended writing format or by asking employees to rank a list of options that you provide.

The bottom line is that perks and events keep the work weeks from running into each other in a monotonous slog. They also give employees something to look forward to, which in itself can help stave off burnout.

4. Encourage Time Off

It’s likely that you offer full-time employees paid time off and sick leave. Those paid days are there not only to attract quality talent, they’re also essential for giving workers a needed break.

If you notice workers are often leaving PTO on the table at the end of every year, it’s important to ask why. If you allow a generous amount of hours to roll over from year to year, workers might be building them up for a long vacation.

However, if they don’t take available PTO because they worry about their workload accumulating, you have a problem. You may need to hire additional staff to ease the workload or institute cross-training. Either way, taking PTO is something you should support.

Catch Burnout Early

Employee burnout can have a devastating effect on morale, productivity, and turnover. In some ways, burnout can function like an illness. There are numerous treatments you can offer to avoid or reverse the condition, but these actions are most effective in the early stages.

To keep burnout from becoming an issue at your business, listen to your employees and regularly assess how things are going. By performing regular maintenance on the mental well-being of your staff, your team will be happier and function better in their jobs.

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5 Software Solutions for Better Time Management

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Management

As an entrepreneur, one of the most difficult things to manage is your time. You wear multiple hats, trying to balance everything from checkbooks to customer complaints and internal affairs with your employees. Making sure you have time for all of that, plus a personal life to keep you sane, is just as important as it is challenging.

While discipline and hard work are certainly answers to time management concerns, there are other solutions worth exploring. In particular, consider these five software programs that have already been proven to help improve time management and overall productivity.

1. Project Management Software

If you were able to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, you probably became familiar with at least one type of project management software. These tools made it possible for teams to continue working together despite not meeting in the same place. Even as offices return to normal, project management software is still seeing use because of how helpful it can be for time management.

Project management software can help you manage your time in many ways. Delegating tasks can be done much more quickly, and roles can be assigned publicly for the whole team to see. Many software programs include messaging capabilities to send quick updates and questions, whether you’re on your computer or mobile device. Most programs also allow you to integrate other apps such as Google Drive and Zoom.

Your entire team will become more efficient thanks to the features that project management software provides. Meeting times can be cut down due to increased communication, and resources can be more easily stored and accessed within the program. Over time your team will adapt the software to its needs making it become increasingly effective as time goes on.

2. Time-Tracking Software

One of the best ways you can improve your time management is to keep a daily record. You can do this on paper, but you’ll have a much easier time using time-tracking software. Not only is it faster to track your time through a digital program, but the software often comes with additional, helpful features.

One such example is Calendar, the aptly named online calendar application. One of its features is time analytics. As you update your events and appointments within Calendar, it breaks down your daily and weekly time usage. This allows you to visualize how your time is being spent. You may notice you’re spending too much time in meetings and not enough time networking thanks to these analytics.

Time tracking will also help you keep yourself accountable to projects and commitments. For entrepreneurs trying to get a start-up going this is especially important. Time tracking ensures that you’re putting in the effort required for success while still spending quality time with your family and friends.

3. Checklist Software 

When you have so many tasks staring you in the face it’s difficult to decide where you should start. Do you need to begin your day by checking emails, or should you finish that high-profile sales pitch first? What you need is a good game plan for your daily checklists. The less time you spend mulling over your to-do list, the more time can be spent toward action.

The first step is to make good lists. Checklist software can provide good templates for your to-do lists. You can organize tasks by type and urgency while adding colors and designs to set them apart. Visualizing your checklists will improve your ability to complete them.

Ranking your to-do list and prioritizing items in your schedule will be a little tougher. Try something like the Eisenhower Matrix to help determine which tasks should take precedence each day.

4. Automated Scheduling Software 

When it comes to time management, automation will always be your best friend. The more tasks you can automate, the fewer things you have to worry about each day. This frees up a lot of time for you to focus on a more concentrated list.

Let’s say you operate an appointment-based business. Clients can use automated scheduling software to book their appointments without needing to go through an agent. All of the time and effort needed to schedule appointments is now spent by the customer.

You can use automated scheduling software within your organization as well. A scheduling link can be shared with employees who might want to meet with you periodically. That same link can be shared with other companies or investors who work with you for optimized communication.

5. Knowledge Base Software

Also known as help center software, knowledge base software allows you to set up self-service content for your customers. A common use for this software is creating a Frequently Asked Questions page for your website. Informative blog posts or tutorial videos also fall under this category.

Such a tool is extremely valuable for small business owners who are more likely to be answering questions for customers. If prospective clients can get their questions and concerns answered on your website, there will be fewer calls to field and emails to respond to. Since most of these customer interactions can’t be planned for in advance, you’ll have an easier time sticking to a concrete schedule while building your business.

In addition to this list, there are many other types of software solutions that can help you better manage your time. Give at least one of them a try this month and pay attention to your time usage. Compare it to last month, and you’ll see which solutions are actually fixing your problems.

5 Ways to Customize Your Client Experience

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Client Experience

From start to finish, there’s a lot that needs to be done to take care of your customers. You want them to have a flawless check-in experience, an ideal appointment, and a clean exit. Satisfied customers will leave positive reviews and refer your business to their friends.

One way you can set yourself apart from competitors, while simultaneously enhancing the client experience, is by offering customization options. This way, each client can have a unique experience that fits their needs and preferences. Customization isn’t always easy in the brainstorming phase, so here are some ideas you can use to get started:

1. Provide Onsite Child Care 

Many clients have children, but they won’t always have access to childcare when they have time for appointments. Additionally, few businesses allocate resources toward onsite child care services. This monumental gesture could be huge for your local community, if implemented correctly.

Just think of how many parents will appreciate being able to go to the salon on a Saturday because they can take their child along. Parents with working partners also don’t have to postpone dentist appointments or doctor’s visits simply because they’re too busy with kids during business hours.

Onsite child care should have at least one designated employee to take care of any children present. Some sanitized toys and a TV are enough to keep them entertained for a half-hour appointment. Your clients will be extremely grateful and may return frequently due to this service.

2. Send Personalized Gifts

Who says you should only take care of your clients while they are inside your building? A lot of what can make a client experience unique occurs before and after their appointments. For example, you can go the extra mile by sending some personalized gifts to your regulars.

In your customer portals, you can keep track of birthdays or other special events worth recognizing. An email saying happy birthday with a gift certificate or coupon attached is a nice gesture that isn’t required. Going out of your way to send little messages and gifts like that can really set your organization apart.

To make this strategy work you really have to be sincere. Get to know your clients and remember key details about them. This way you can congratulate them when they grow their family, graduate from school, or accomplish other things outside of regular holidays.

3. Offer Loyalty Discounts

Appointment-based businesses are no strangers to loyalty and rewards programs. What you might not have considered is offering a variety of loyalty programs for customers to choose from. This way each client will receive bonuses and incentives that actually matter to them rather than a one-size-fits-all solution.

Let’s say you set a benchmark of 10 appointments for the first loyalty bonus to kick in. Customers can have the option to accept a discount on their next appointment or receive an Amazon gift card, among other options. You’re offering them a simple choice to make, but the freedom to choose is a powerful gift.

Loyalty points are perhaps the most flexible way to incentivize and reward your clients. Points can be redeemed for discounts, gift cards, or even stockpiled for larger rewards such as electronic devices or even hotel stays. Some customers might strive to unlock the highest reward possible, while others will be content to receive a voucher for a free meal.

4. Keep Preferences on File 

If you get your haircut at the same salon, they likely remember exactly how you like it. This shows they put forth effort to customize each client’s experience and keep it consistent. Your business might fall under a different sector, but the principle is still the same. Keeping customer preferences on file can add a lot to their experience, especially when repeated.

A few examples would be recording a client’s favorite massage therapist or the nail tech who knows their preferred style. You can also keep track of details such as appointment times, so you can suggest the best date and time for a follow-up appointment. This information is best tracked in a customer portal that can be created and maintained through a CRM or customer relationship management tool.

5. Provide Snacks and Refreshments 

You should do everything you can to keep waiting times low. Unfortunately, due to circumstances that are out of your control, wait times might run longer than you’d expect. Additionally, some industries can’t help but have wait times, such as a mechanic’s shop providing an oil change.

If you have a lot of early morning appointments, a fully stocked coffee bar should be a big hit. You can provide all sorts of flavors and fixings to keep guests comfortable in your waiting room. A soda fountain machine or individually packaged snacks are other treats you can leave out for your clients while they wait.

After going through this list, stop and think about what your clients would appreciate the most. Be creative with the ideas you choose to implement. As long as you have their best interests in mind, you will find success in customizing their individual experiences.

Image Credit: Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Increase Your Appointment Bookings During the Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

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Appointment Bookings

Are you a small business owner, an accountant, or a doctor? Regardless of what you do, your business probably relies on clients. Meaning, that for your company to thrive you need to continuously book appointments. Easier said than done, right?

Increasing your appointment bookings isn’t easy, especially in the summer when business typically slows down. But don’t worry. There are ways you can keep attracting customers. This article includes a few tips to help you increase your appointment bookings. From integrating appointment software to offering discounts, here’s everything you need to know:

1. Add Personal Touches

Whether you’re sending emails or using your website to target consumers, consider adding some personal touches. Sure, you don’t know everything about your prospective client, but you know enough to make a connection.

For example, let’s say you own a medical spa. Summer is around the corner, which as you know, is a popular time for people to vacation. With this information, you might want to consider integrating something about “looking your best this summer” into your email.

Finding small ways to connect with your audience and make your product relevant helps you stand out, and can increase your appointment bookings.

2. Improve Online Visibility

Sure, you have a website. That doesn’t mean Google is displaying your website. To help prospective clients find you, it’s important your site is considering search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. To do this, consider consulting with an SEO specialist. There are also small steps you can take yourself to help with SEO.

For instance, having a mobile-friendly website is important for SEO. So, consider re-working your website to ensure it’s easy to navigate on any device. Publishing blog posts and using images can also boost your SEO.

The higher you rank on SEO, the higher Google will rank you. And in turn, the more likely a customer will be directed to your website than your competitors.

3. Use Appointment Software

In today’s modern world, consumers want everything to be fast — even scheduling appointments. The traditional method of having a prospective client call or even email to schedule an appointment won’t cut it anymore. Because of this, you should consider integrating appointment scheduling software.

With this technology, clients can book an appointment from their phone with only a few clicks. They don’t have to spend time talking on the phone or going back and forth with someone at the company. All they have to do is find a time that works for them, based on your availability, and click. Not only does this create a better consumer experience, but it can also help your business stay organized.

4. Send Follow-Up Messages

According to research, missed appointments in the healthcare industry range from 10 to 50%. Even if you’re not in healthcare, missed appointments can be problematic. It can cause you to lose time and money. Instead of blocking off that time for someone who didn’t show up, you could’ve made money by working with a paying client.

To prevent no-shows, consider sending clients an automatic reminder after they’ve scheduled an appointment. Using appointment software can help with this and also let you pick and choose how to send the reminders. For instance, you might opt to send appointment reminders via text, email, or automatic phone call. You can even include an option where the client can cancel, giving you the opportunity to book with someone else.

5. Use Customer Referrals 

Word of mouth customer referrals is an easy and inexpensive way to increase appointment bookings. You simply ask your current customers to refer their friends or anyone they may know.

Keep in mind that you want to make sure your current customers are happy with your service before asking them to refer you. It’s also a good idea to ask for referrals immediately after interacting with your customer. Doing this, as opposed to waiting weeks, increases the likelihood the customer will actually tell their friends and family.

Some companies offer a referral discount. Meaning, that every time an existing customer refers someone and that person comes in for an appointment, the existing customer earns a discount. This is a great way to motivate existing customers and build loyalty.

6. Send a Post-Appointment Survey

Feedback is important for any business. Think about it. You can’t grow if you don’t know what you’re doing right and ways to improve. To keep this from happening, consider sending customers a post-appointment survey. You might be thinking, “No one will fit it out.” Turns out, that’s not true.

According to Survey Monkey, 85% of customers say they will give their feedback when the experience is good. Another 81% will give feedback when the experience is bad. Based on this information, there’s a good chance you’ll receive feedback regardless.

When it comes to a post-appointment survey, you should also make sure these post-appointment surveys are mobile-friendly and concise. While you might want a lot of feedback, it’s doubtful a customer will take hours filling out a survey. So, do your best to create pointed questions that will provide you with the best information.

Increasing your appointment bookings doesn’t have to be complicated. By making small changes, based on the tips above, you can help your business thrive this summer.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Tech Tools That Will Make Your Team More Productive

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Tech Tools

As a business owner, you have a lot to worry about. Are you getting enough customers? Are they satisfied with your service and are you making enough money to stay afloat? That’s not to mention making sure building space is up to code, employees are happy with their working conditions, and your personal life isn’t totally sucked away by entrepreneurship. If even one of these things is a concern for you, it’s time to equip a new tool that can help.

Increasing the productivity of your business and the team that runs it will make your company more successful without needing constant supervision. Tech tools abound in today’s business landscape and can quickly turn one of your organization’s weaknesses into a strength.

The question is: What tech tools should my business be using? There are so many to choose from, and it’s tough to know where to start. To give you some ideas, here are five of today’s best tech tools that you can try out for yourself:

1. Toggl

If you want to improve team productivity, you need to start with time management. The secret to improving productivity isn’t by working longer hours, it’s by getting more out of the hours you do put on the clock. A lot of issues concerning time management can be alleviated through Toggl.

Toggl was originally just a time tracking and reporting software, yet there are now multiple ways to use this tool. Time tracking, offered through Toggl Track, allows you to visualize your time and can show you where your inefficiencies lie through detailed reports.

The newer team planning aspect, Toggle Plan, helps organize and manage projects. The team dashboard, email tracking reminders, and time audits help ensure team members are on the same page. Additionally, the Toggl Hire feature has resources for improving your hiring process through skills tests. For a growing business, this can help screen new applicants more efficiently.

2. Appointment

A large portion of your time as a business leader will be spent in various meetings. Additionally, many businesses rely on appointment bookings to meet with customers to sell products and services. Organizing these meetings and events on your own can be stressful, but with Appointment as your tech tool, it’s a breeze.

One of Appointment’s most valuable features is its ability to handle multiple locations, departments, and categories at once. If you’re operating a large business or a region of franchises, Appointment will help you keep every time commitment in its proper place.

For appointment-based businesses, this program will automate most of the booking process. Employees will spend less time on the phones or at the check-in desk and can devote their time to other meaningful projects.

3. Slack

Team communication is essential. How your team communicates on a daily basis will directly influence their productivity and overall success. Modern teams have to collaborate over long distances and sometimes even time zone changes. A tech tool such as Slack makes collaboration and communication just as easy as if you were sharing an office space.

Slack is an application that can be used on your desktop or your mobile device to quickly send messages and files to anyone on your team. Separate channels can be created to keep departments and subject matter separated for optimal communication. You can even set permissions for each channel so that only the necessary individuals have access to certain chat rooms.

The cherry on top is all the integrations that you can add to Slack in addition to its effective communication platform. You can hook up other applications such as Google Drive, Zoom, and Salesforce for an even more streamlined teamwork process.

4. Hubspot

The question isn’t what can Hubspot do for you, it’s what can’t Hubspot do for you? Hubspot has a variety of tech tool solutions called ‘hubs’ that can be used individually or combined together to increase team productivity. Available hubs cover the following business processes:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Content Management
  • System Operations

If you want to give each hub a try you can use a two-week demo to see how each one affects your team’s metrics. Some hubs even have limited tools available for free if you would like to run a small sample over a longer period of time.

5. Buffer

Any great business in 2022 is managing a social media presence alongside their regular operations. Even with a dedicated social media team, this can be quite the undertaking. Social media content needs to be curated, edited, and posted alongside managing comments and direct messages.

With a tool such as Buffer, much of your social media projects can be automated. For starters, you can schedule your social media posts across multiple platforms to go live at a designated time. You won’t have to log on at the exact moment you want your content to be posted.

Additionally, you get access to advanced metrics and reporting to help you improve your social media strategy. With Buffer’s reports, you can see exactly what’s working and how you should change your approach.

To truly know if these tech tools are improving productivity you need to pay close attention. How have your metrics changed since using a new tool? Do team members seem more energized with new tools? If you’re seeing positive results, then consider making those tools a permanent resource for your team.

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