All posts by Jason Barnes

3 Time Management Tips for New Businesses

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Time Management

There are a lot of factors that go into starting a business. You need enough capital to begin operations before you can hope to turn a profit. You need a good idea that can sell and the systems to back it up. The most important factor of all, however, just might be your time management.

You could have a million-dollar idea or a million dollars to start a business, but you won’t get very far if you’re not managing your time properly. With all the hats you’re wearing as a business founder, you need to make the very best use of your limited hours. Wasted time is wasted money, and the lack of efficiency can even hurt your business image.

Here are some ways you can get your time management skills in the right place when starting a new business:

1. Maximize Time Management during Training

Even if you start your business by yourself, eventually you’re going to need some help if you’re trying to grow. This means hiring employees and training them in their positions. In order for training to be effective, you need to set aside time for it and have a good plan in place for carrying out training while maintaining business operations.

Start by creating a timetable for training your new hires. How long should training last, and what skills and company knowledge should new employees have acquired by each milestone? Now you can create an actual plan to make that happen instead of pushing back certain trainings indefinitely.

There are two specific tactics you might consider to make training more time-efficient. E-learning modules will enable new hires to self-schedule training during what might otherwise be downtime in their days. They can even do their learning remotely on the go. And because the training takes place via an online module, it doesn’t require other employees to step away from their usual work to train new hires.

That said, there is some employee education that is better accomplished in one-to-one fashion. Sometimes there’s no good substitute for seeing for yourself how something gets done. To help show your newbies the ropes, allow them to shadow an employee with the same role or one who performs similar duties. The veteran employee can share knowledge the rookie employee needs without having to sacrifice their time management in their day-to-day responsibilities.

2. Get on the Same Page — In Your Calendar

Part of your training plan might include making sure you have enough staff on hand to complete necessary tasks while training is taking place. While e-learning and shadowing will minimize the amount of time current employees have to spend training new hires, they’re still likely to spend some. You’ll need to ensure that your customers are still being taken care of and no one is feeling overwhelmed while attention and resources are temporarily diverted toward training. Proper scheduling will make this a lot easier than it might sound at first.

A team calendar will help ensure that all your bases are covered with collaborative time management. Participants in training sessions will get automatic calendar invites, alerting them to where they need to be and when. Veteran employees will know when they need to find a colleague to cover the phones, for example, and the team calendar will show them at a glance who is available. This simple tool will help you keep everyone on the same page every single day so long as you keep it updated. Using a team calendar will help cut down miscommunications and help everyone stay on top of everyday responsibilities.

Beyond the training phase, a team calendar can be used to organize team meetings, coordinate individual schedules, and outline project deadlines. Managers can even look at scheduling links as a way to effectively plan meetings with their direct reports. This tool eliminates the back-and-forth emails and helps prevent accidental overbooking.

3. Allow Hybrid Work Options When Possible

Effective time management is about getting as much done in as little time possible. Sometimes that means rethinking where the work gets done. You can save your team a lot of time by enabling hybrid work options for positions that make sense.

If you hired a web designer or a social media manager, almost everything they do will be online. They can do their job just as well from home as they can in the office. By allowing them to work from home, they can save time and money on commutes and lunches out. The time they regain can allow them to get some extra projects done throughout the week.

The ability to work from home also means that employees can still get tasks done; even when they’re home with a sick child or waiting for the dishwasher repair person. The work-life balance that hybrid work provides can also make your employees happier and more fulfilled, causing them to use their time on the clock more productively.

Time management isn’t easy, but it also doesn’t have to be complicated. With the right planning tools, and flexibility, your new business will be in a great place right from the get-go.

Image Credit: Anete Lusina; Pexels; Thanks!

How Remote Work Is Changing How We Think About Productivity

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How Remote Work Changing How We Think About Productivity

It has been over two years since we first learned about COVID-19. There are a lot of things we will remember about those first months of the pandemic. The weird Netflix specials we binge-watched and the toilet paper we panic-bought are burned into our memories.

However, one of the most impactful things to come out of the pandemic isn’t our collection of homesewn masks or the rush of curbside pickup services extended by local businesses. What will continue to live on long after COVID-19 is remote work.

In order to keep businesses running and incomes alive, numerous companies experimented with having their employees work from home rather than in the office. This experiment ended up being incredibly successful and is a trend that many workers want to continue. Here are just some of the reasons why many are fighting to retain remote work and what we’ve learned from the experience thus far.

Happier Employees Work Harder

One of the most important points to touch on when talking about remote work is employee well-being. Simply put, working from home makes it a lot easier for workers to maintain a proper life balance. Taking away the commutes and morning prep times allows employees to spend more time with family, pursuing hobbies, or even getting the rest they need to clock in again the next day.

Happier employees tend to work harder. A positive attitude makes it easier to put your nose to the grindstone. In addition, employees who are pleased with their company’s work conditions will be more likely to give their all to the organization that has made this balance possible.

A study of employees who moved to remote work during the first six months of the pandemic showed that productivity was up considerably when compared to the same time period the year before. This came during one of the most stressful and uncertain times in modern U.S. history, so you can only imagine how beneficial remote work can be now that stability is returning somewhat.

Less Is Sometimes More

To grasp the full impact of remote work, let’s turn our focus away from the employees themselves for a moment. Productivity is part of cost management. Every task, product, and project comes with attendant costs. A productive workplace is also an efficient one, and remote work enables that more than nearly anything else.

For starters, companies can spend a lot less on daily expenses when employees work from home. Utility bills are lowered, less paper is consumed, and expensive office spaces with large floor plans are no longer necessary. Even if your employees are only working at 90% capacity in a remote setting, the significant savings you can get from making the move might be worth that and more.

With lower overhead costs, your company can sustain the same bottom line even if it brings in fewer sales or produces fewer deliverables. Yet if you work on keeping your remote workers motivated and productive, which is entirely doable, you’re likely to maintain — or even exceed — previous revenue numbers.

Convenience Is King

Another example of how less can sometimes be more is in the simple convenience of working from home. Employees often feel more comfortable working in their own space, which leads to higher productivity. A Stanford study estimated a 13% increase in productivity for remote workers when compared to productivity in the office.

A quieter, more familiar atmosphere and the ability to continue getting work done when feeling too sick to show up at the office are some of the biggest reasons for the productivity boost. It’s also nice not having to wear dress pants to every meeting and having easy access to the kitchen whenever you want a drink or snack.

Companies around the world spend billions of dollars trying to create ideal workspaces for their employees to get them excited about coming into the office to work. Even if you have a state-of-the-art coffee machine and an expansive lounge, oftentimes the same results can be replicated simply by letting employees work in their own homes.

KPIs Don’t Have to Be So Rigid

Most organizations use a collection of key performance indicators, or KPIs, to measure employee productivity. Unfortunately, many of these KPIs are a bit outdated. The shift to remote work is an opportunity to reevaluate the metrics you track in an effort to improve organizational productivity.

For example, many establishments rate their employees based on how punctual they are for shifts and how much overtime they are willing to put in. While these certainly can be signs of a good employee, they often miss the bigger picture. With remote work, time logged can be much less relevant, so measuring other KPIs will give you a better look into how your team is performing.

Instead of monitoring how much time your employees are sitting in front of a computer, track how many tasks they’ve completed or sales they’ve closed. If they’re accomplishing their regular workload and more, does it really matter when they started work or how many hours they clocked in?

Remote work certainly isn’t for everyone. Some people thrive in an office space, but many others are benefiting from remote work and the productivity boost it has delivered. Modern businesses should seriously consider remote work or hybrid work options for their teams. These flexible arrangements are likely to produce happier employees who work harder and stick around longer.

Image Credit: Ivan Samkov; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways Your Business Can Better Leverage Social Media

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5 Ways Business Can Better Leverage Social Media

If your business is not using social media to its advantage, now is the time to start. Social media platforms are free to use and have lots of features to help businesses market themselves. These platforms get a lot of money from the ad revenue they generate from businesses, but you don’t have to give them a dime to see social media make an instant impact.

The truth is that modern consumers spend hours a day on social media sites. They will often use social media to ask about businesses and review their information and content. In addition, by posting content, you can reach new customers who were unaware of your brand before logging on.

That said, social media can be an intimidating space for businesses to get their footing. You might not know where to start or what you should be doing to reap the benefits of social media. These five tips will give you and your brand a helpful nudge in the right direction.

1. Truly Engage With Customers

When just dipping your toes in the water, you might think the obvious use of social media is to promote your new products or deals. You can attach links to your website, with the goal of achieving high click-through rates that result in sales. While this is a great strategy, social media can be used for so much more. These platforms allow you to engage with your customers on a more personal level.

Begin by posting content that addresses your customers’ wants and needs. Keep in mind the tone of voice you use in your writing and make sure that it reflects your brand accurately.

Above all, be consistent with your use of these platforms. You don’t need to post every single day, but your content schedule needs to deliver at a decent enough clip that customers stay engaged.

Another thing you can do is post a poll for customers to respond to. This can give you insight into how customers view your brand and products. Some companies also use social media for customer service. Team members will respond to comments and posts containing issues and complaints and try to come up with solutions. By reaching out to customers, you can often turn negative experiences with your brand into opportunities to build loyalty.

2. Post on Multiple Platforms

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit, and more. There are so many social media platforms, each with its specific features and target audience. You can get comfortable with one, but you’ll find more success by using multiple different platforms.

While you will be able to reach numerous customers through Facebook, some users might have migrated to Instagram or another platform. If you’re restricting yourself to one, you won’t be able to reach all your potential new clients. Even posting the same content across channels can help with your brand visibility.

3. Use Integrations

There are plenty of useful tools you can use alongside your social media platforms. For example, Facebook allows businesses to integrate a schedule into their pages. Users who see your content and want to book a time slot at your appointment-based business can do so directly through this integration.

Other integrations such as Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to plan out your posts in advance. You can set up a week’s worth of content in a single workday and let the integration post based on your schedule.

4. Connect With Other Businesses

Especially for small businesses, the connections you make can be extremely valuable now and in the future. Social media puts you in a position where you can network with the right people. Businesses can create partnerships with other brands, sports teams, and even influencers that can increase their visibility and brand reputation.

You might have seen some friendly banter between Wendy’s and its fast-food competitors on Twitter. While this is done in jest, the comments and posts net all parties more viewers on their profiles and posts. This certainly isn’t your typical form of collaboration, but it’s an example of what two brands can accomplish together through social media.

5. Track Data and Analytics

The backend of social media is just as important as what the customers see. Data and analytics show you what posts are working and which ones are falling short. A video you spent hours developing might not have as big of an impact as a simple image. If you’re not tracking data, you might not realize this.

Most social media platforms have a business page where you can view data analytics. This will give you basic information such as number of impressions, likes, comments, and other engagement with your posts. This will help you modify your content to have a greater impact.

The longer you track data, the more information you’ll have to use to improve your business. Collected data will become more reliable over time, so get started as soon as possible.

In today’s digital-driven world, if you’re not on social media, you may as well not exist. To gain the visibility that will attract customers and drive revenue, embrace these five tips to make social media work for you.

Image Credit: Tracy Le Blanc; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Keep Your Employees Better Connected

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How to Keep Employees Better Connected

The next time you’re at the park, pick up a twig and snap it with your hands. Pretty easy to do, right? Now gather up a group of sticks and try to do the same thing. You’ll find it a lot harder to break even one of the sticks now that they are gathered in a group.

This same concept can be applied to your workforce. When employees are better connected, they are much more difficult to break. They can overcome nearly any difficulty together and keep productivity at maximum capacity with a combination of trust, communication, and teamwork.

The question now is, how do you help your employees become better connected? Every person and team is different, but the following tips should help you to improve the sense of connection in your workplace over time:

Improve Your Onboarding Process

Employee connection starts with the onboarding process. This process includes all of the actions you take to acclimate new members of your team to the company. With a proper onboarding process, even your newest employees can feel connected to the team from day one.

One method you can consider is a mentorship program. This assigns a tenured employee to the new hire to help answer their questions, complete training, and simply be a new friend in the workplace. New employees will start off with a work buddy they can rely on and communicate with as they become more familiar with their new position and get to know the rest of the team.

Stay Connected Online

Keeping team members connected was a struggle many companies encountered during the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. With entire organizations sheltering in place, there were no more team lunches, water cooler convos, or other daily interactions that occur naturally in an office space. What to do?

Managers and leaders got creative by using software programs to keep their employees connected online. This was primarily done through videoconference meetings that allowed teams to connect even while working from home. Perhaps the most value, though, was found through specialized apps such as project management software. These tools kept teams in sync and provided text channels for sharing documents, updates, and even some silly images.

The beauty of these software applications is that they can be used just as effectively by in-office teams as remote ones. Employees can send quick messages without having to get up from their desks, whether it’s to ask a simple question or share a laugh during the workday.

Meet Outside of Work

Full-time employees spend roughly 40 hours a week at their place of work, whether that’s in-office or remote. That’s a significant portion of their lives. The people they work with become more than just co-workers; they’re almost like an extended family. To make sure your work family continues to get along, plan some opportunities for them to connect outside of the work environment.

Common events companies will put together include team luncheons and dinners. Everyone appreciates a good meal on the house, but such gatherings also allow co-workers to spend time together and talk about more than just work. This allows teammates to form deeper relationships as they get to know their colleagues’ personal interests.

There are so many options you can consider here. Take your employees and their families to the water park on a summer weekend. Rent out a movie theater for an evening or organize a game night. As long as everyone is there and having fun, it should be a win in your book.

Hire for Soft Skills

An underrated aspect of team connectivity is hiring the right type of people. There are certain individuals who just aren’t compatible with others, and they can really get your team out of sync. Prioritizing soft skills when you hire people will help with that.

When interviewing an applicant, assessing their communication skills and personality traits can be just as important as combing through their résumé. One of your candidates might not boast the most experience, but they could be a fast learner and have a positive impact on the office culture.

Be very careful when making these sorts of decisions, though, as you don’t want to fall prey to bias. You shouldn’t automatically dismiss a job candidate just because you don’t immediately feel comfortable with them. Make sure you ask all candidates the same questions and give them the same assessments to ensure you’re evaluating each contender fairly. Your goal should be a diverse group of contributors who can work harmoniously together, not a team full of Mini-Mes.

Embrace Spontaneity

Even the best leaders can fall victim to micromanagement from time to time. You may be accidentally quelling some team connection without even realizing it. Sure, you want your employees to work hard, but sometimes embracing the spontaneity of certain moments can lead to greater productivity in the future.

For instance, the first reaction a manager might have to a group chit-chatting in the break room is to tell everyone to get back to work. At times this will be necessary, such as stopping inappropriate behavior or restarting work that has been brought to a standstill for too long. However, allowing your employees to converse at least relatively freely allows them to connect and build relationships that will be helpful for future collaboration.

The benefits of improved employee connectivity are pretty plain to see. Start building those connections within your organization today, and by the end of 2022, you should see a positive difference.

Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko; Pexels; Thank you!

How to Retain Your Top Employees During the ‘Great Resignation’

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Retain Top Employees During Great Resignation

We are living in a time of the so-called Great Resignation. This clever name refers to the millions of Americans who have quit their jobs in the past year. Today’s workers are starting over on their own terms, looking for employment that is more flexible, offers more competitive packages, and treats them like human beings.

Even if you think your workplace is up to par, you might be in danger of losing your top employees to this mass exodus. They say the grass is greener on the other side, but you can always start watering your side of the fence so that your turf remains lush and attractive to top talent. With that thought in mind, here are some ways you can convince your best employees to stay with your organization despite the turnover nationwide.

Keep Your Business Organized

Your top employees are no doubt some of the most capable individuals in their field. They don’t want to feel like their talents are being wasted because they’re always having to put out fires and repair damaged workflows. An organized business model will remove those tricky variables so that your team members can focus on what they do best.

There are lots of benefits that come from having an organized business. For starters, you can find important information and materials when you need them. Responsibilities are clear, and team members have the resources to complete their tasks efficiently. All of those benefits contribute to a positive work environment that employees will be hesitant to leave.

Don’t know how to start getting organized? Try using a software program for project management, scheduling, or payroll. Such solutions can be implemented almost immediately and begin yielding results.

Show Appreciation

When hiring new employees, you might be extra attentive in an attempt to make them feel comfortable and committed to your business. After some time, it’s easy to slack off on the things that made you an attractive employer in the first place. If you neglect your existing employees, they’ll start looking for a change of scenery.

There are many ways you can express appreciation toward your employees, most of which require little more than simple effort. Try saying thank you more often and greet employees as they arrive each morning. Hold the occasional team lunch to encourage interaction and give your employees a treat. Simple gestures such as these can go a long way to making employees feel appreciated, noticed, and cared for.

You should also look for ways to reward your team for their hard work and dedication to the company. Hand out bonuses, offer incentives, and revamp your benefits package for tenured employees who deserve some extra compensation for everything they do. This will help ensure your business doesn’t fall victim to the Great Resignation.

Ask for Feedback

Listening to your employees’ concerns and taking action that directly benefits them is another great way to show appreciation. Solicit their feedback in an attempt to make the workplace better for them and keep your retention rates high.

There are — at least — two ways you can ask for feedback from your employees. You can create a survey in which responses can be anonymous. By filling out an online form, employees can share whatever they want without hesitation. Your survey can contain specific questions about the workplace but should also have a section where your employees can add their personal thoughts.

The other option is to hold face-to-face meetings with your workers and ask them for feedback directly. This can be done as part of performance reviews or other regularly scheduled meetings. Asking about — and listening to — their concerns will make your employees feel like their voice matters.

Make Changes As Needed

Once you receive feedback from your employees, do something with it! Team members might feel even worse if you listen to their opinions and then do nothing with their input. Making needed changes to your organization for the benefit of your employees is sure to boost retention rates even during the Great Resignation.

In addition to taking feedback seriously, seize the initiative to make positive changes on your own. Employees shouldn’t feel that in order for change to happen, they have to submit a signed petition or approach their supervisor directly. They’ll be much more pleased when management shows that they can analyze a situation and make it better with their own time and efforts.

If a team member does move on, conduct a candid exit interview. Knowing why employees leave your company will help you know what changes you need to make. For example, during the peak of COVID-19, it was a great benefit to be able to work from home to avoid getting sick. Enabling remote work is a way many companies have kept their best employees throughout the Great Resignation, rather than seeing them flock to other organizations that allowed remote work first.

Improve Your Work Culture

A large study on the Great Resignation found that the leading cause of employee turnover was a toxic work culture. A poisonous work environment can dissuade your best employees from staying regardless of the pay and benefits. Considering how much time they spend at work, employees greatly value an atmosphere that is positive and fosters their professional development.

The question now is how do you improve your workplace culture? This might involve changing your management style to micromanage less, allowing employees greater flexibility, or even firing an employee who’s always causing problems for the team. Improving your work culture will create an environment where your top employees can continue to thrive and want to remain for the long haul. If you stand around and do nothing to retain your top talent, your employees could walk away to pursue new dreams. Instead of watching them go, make a concerted effort to improve their workplace and enable them to achieve their professional goals in your organization.

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5 Ways to Streamline Your Schedule So You Don’t Miss Anything

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Streamline Schedule Don't Miss Anything

How you use your time each day is extremely important. If you want to be as productive as possible within an 8-hour workday, you need to learn how to best allocate your time. By following a proper schedule, you can get a lot more done in the same time period.

Slapping events and projects onto a calendar is only the start. Once you’ve got a schedule laid out, you need to maximize it. A few simple adjustments will get your schedule firing on all cylinders, streamlining your personal workflow without missing any important details or activities.

1. Use Collaborative Scheduling

Team calendars are a great way to optimize not only your own time, but that of everyone in the office. In a collaborative workplace, a lot of your schedule will be dependent on the people you work with. Meeting times, hybrid work schedules, deadlines, and more need to be coordinated throughout the entire organization without missing a beat.

With a shared team calendar, all of this information can be found in one place. This way, everyone knows what’s going on and can check each other’s schedule before booking meetings or appointments with one another. This will keep you in the loop even during a busy week where keeping track of all of these events seems impossible.

2. Take Advantage of Event Reminders

You can’t always rely on your memory, even if you have a mind like a steel trap. Reminders will provide a failsafe for every event and appointment you book so that even if you do forget about one, you’ll be able to jog your memory in time.

Consider the best event reminder strategy for each meeting and appointment. Instead of accepting the 10 minutes prior default, you may need to set some reminders a couple of hours in advance. That will give you time to prepare for the meeting beforehand and still arrive on time. Reminders set the night before an event might remind you not to overbook your schedule for the upcoming day. In some cases, you might even benefit from multiple reminders to help you through every stage of the process.

3. Avoid Overbooking

Whatever type of time management or scheduling software you use, make sure that it has a feature that prevents you from scheduling events that conflict. If your program of choice doesn’t alert you to potential overbooking, you may inadvertently stack events together and get yourself into quite a predicament. It won’t be until your events collide in real time that you realize the mistake you’ve made.

The right software will ensure you don’t actively have to think about overbooking. While you’re making plans, it will stop you from scheduling too much. This will allow you to shift events around or reschedule various commitments so everything works out. If you’re not getting any alerts from a program with this capability, it means you’re good to go.

4. Set Up a Scheduling Link

One way to streamline your schedule is to get other people to organize it for you. This might sound like an abdication of responsibility, but it’s actually quite practical. All you need to do is set up a scheduling link for yourself.

This link will be connected to your online calendar software. You can attach it at the end of emails or on a website for others to access. By using the link, coworkers, clients, and others can see your availability and schedule a time to meet with you. This eliminates the seemingly endless back-and-forths that occur when two parties try to coordinate schedules.

You can update your scheduling link to only allow certain times of day to be made available to others. This way no one will book a time slot where you’re at the gym or taking a lunch break. If every day follows a different routine, you can adjust your scheduling link accordingly.

5. Don’t Overdo It

If you don’t want to miss anything on your schedule, stop overpacking it. If your schedule is constantly at its breaking point with meetings, phone calls, deadlines, and events, you’ll run a higher risk of missing something important. This could create a catastrophic domino effect — or at the very least be incredibly stressful to handle.

Cutting back can be easier said than done, especially for busy professionals. Instead of hoping that your schedule will magically develop breathing room, try a new approach. For example, you can force yourself to include 10 minutes of buffer in between each commitment. This will ensure that you always have time to make it to your next appointment or prepare for back-to-back meetings.

Another thing you can do is track your time. Certain calendar apps will monitor how you’re spending your time, which can help you plan more efficiently in the future. By tracking your schedule, you may realize that you’re spending too much time in meetings and can take steps to cut down the number or duration of those you schedule.

To improve your time management, try to review your schedule at least once a month. Make some slight adjustments and continue pressing forward. By year’s end, you’ll have the most streamlined schedule possible.

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5 Tips for Using Appointment-Based Businesses in 2022

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Tips For Using Appointment Based Businesses 2022

New year, same bookings you’ll need to keep scheduling at your appointment-based business. Celebrating the turn of the calendar is always fun and exciting, but now it’s time to get back to the old grind. That includes scheduling any upcoming appointments for services you’re going to need in the coming days.

Whether it’s a check-up at the dentist’s office or getting an oil change for your car, there are a few things you should remember as you schedule your appointments. By following these five tips, you can be sure you’ll be well received — and well served — in 2022.

1. Be on Time

This should be a no-brainer, but try to be on time to your appointments whenever possible. Being punctual limits the number of variables that appointment-based businesses have to deal with. If you arrive late to your appointment, you end up pushing back everyone else’s appointment bookings as well. This makes it difficult for appointment-based businesses to keep up with their schedules and keep everybody happy, even though they didn’t do anything wrong.

If you have a problem making your appointments on time, elect to receive appointment reminders directly from the business. Through online appointment software, establishments can send you automated reminders specifically for your bookings. You can choose to receive them via text, email, or phone call.

If you’re not already using an online calendar, consider doing so. There’s already one installed in your smartphone, with dozens more available to download. Online calendars are perfect tools for the perennially tardy, helping to develop better time management habits — including getting to appointments on time.

2. Double-Check Everything

One thing that will really help you stay on time is to double-check the time of your appointment bookings. Even if you’re getting appointment reminders, a passing glance and a wrong idea could cause you to miss your appointment by as much as a day or as little as an hour. If you make it a habit to always double-check when you’re scheduling appointments, you’ll be able to fix the commitment in your head accurately.

You should also double-check the information you provide when scheduling an appointment. This ensures you can be contacted if something changes and that you’ll be getting the service you need when you arrive.

Say you’re looking to have your hair colored by your favorite stylist. If you accidentally select a bang trim when booking the appointment online, you might be able to fix the error when you show up. Chances are you’ll need to reschedule your appointment, though, as your stylist probably won’t be able to complete a full color treatment in the time she allotted for snipping a half-inch off your bangs. Even if she does have the time, it will be an inconvenient last-second switch.

3. Be Patient

We live in a world where convenience is no longer considered a luxury, but a requirement. Answers to questions can be Googled in an instant, entire meals prepared and purchased in minutes, and the latest movie streamed from any device the moment it comes out. Even with that expectation of instant gratification, you shouldn’t let a hiccup in your appointment experience cause you to lose patience with your service provider.

Try not to get upset with the person at the front desk when you have to wait, even if you were on time. They cannot help that your doctor is seeing another patient at the moment. Perhaps the person before you arrived late, or the examination revealed a significant problem that required immediate treatment.

Stay in good standing with those at appointment-based businesses because they are still working during uncertain times to serve you. Working through waves of a pandemic isn’t easy, especially if many of the staff are home sick or getting tested for COVID, leaving the rest of the workforce stretched thin.

4. Practice Good Hygiene

Whether or not you attend appointments regularly, maintaining good hygiene is always important. This will help minimize the spreading of germs, especially during the winter when the cold and flu are more common.

Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when the opportunity presents itself. The point isn’t to engage in health-and-safety theater, but to help prevent any illness from spreading, which is the courteous thing to do. After all, wouldn’t you hate to attend your scheduled appointment only to get sick the next day?

5. Practice COVID (and Common Cold) Courtesy

If you yourself are feeling unwell, reschedule your appointment. During this unpredictable time, many businesses are more willing to accommodate clients who need to make last-minute adjustments to their bookings. Try to give a heads up at least 24 hours in advance if you can. Most businesses are likely to understand and be willing to work with you on a scheduling solution.

If you do end up having to go out, try to be courteous by wearing a mask when inside business property. COVID-19 is still a pressing concern for much of the nation, and nobody wants to get sick, even if it’s just a nasty 24-hour bug and not the latest coronavirus variant. Wearing a mask for an hour is such a small sacrifice when it can help your community stay healthy and strong.

Keep these tips in mind, and every appointment you make in 2022 will run smoothly. There are bound to be some challenges that you will face with appointment-setting, but after everything you’ve endured these past few years, it shouldn’t be anything that you can’t handle with ease.

Image Credit: Alex Green; Pexels; Thank you!

5 Ways to Customize Your Customer’s Experience When Making Appointments

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Customer Experience Making Appointments

Customers today like to have control over their interactions with businesses. Customizing their encounters helps them to ensure that they’re getting the exact experience they want. Businesses that are flexible in providing customization options to their customers are likely to draw in and retain new clients.

For appointment-based businesses, being customizable sometimes requires thinking outside of the box. There are certain aspects of appointment setting that are rigid and, to remain optimal, can’t be changed. However, there are a few ways you can customize the appointment experience for customers if you’re open to trying some new things:

1. Offer Plenty of Options

Appointment customization won’t be possible if customers don’t have options to choose from. This should be your starting point. Think of some ways you can make appointments special for your customers, from exclusive deals to surprise discounts.

Some industries have loads of options already at their disposal. For instance, hair salons have all sorts of different products, hairstyles, and stylists to choose from. For the adventurous customer, every appointment can be a new experience.

Other businesses might need to get a little more creative. A dentist might mix up regular checkups by offering different types of prizes for kids to choose from for good brushing skills. A mechanic’s shop can offer different drinks or entertainment options in the lobby while customers wait for an oil change. All of these will contribute to the customization of the customer experience.

2. Include a Survey

After every appointment, send customers home with an optional survey regarding their visit. In this survey, you can ask each customer about any individual preferences they would like to include for their next visit. For example, one survey response might state that a customer would like the same dental technician for their next visit because they had a great experience with them.

With this knowledge, you can help clients customize their future appointments. Not every request can be granted, but assure your customers that you’ll do your best to accommodate them. Keep notes within a customer portal so your team can remember these individual details and carry them over from appointment to appointment.

Survey responses will also be useful for finding out which areas of your business need the most improvement. Feedback might show that your check-in process runs slowly or that the guest bathroom isn’t cleaned as often as patrons would like. Now that you know what customers are noticing, you can make real changes to improve the appointment experience for them.

3. Implement Multiple Tools

If you have multiple tools at your disposal, you can offer different forms of service to your customers. Let’s use appointment reminders as an example. If you have the tools to send reminders via email, text message, phone call, or even a social media message, you can provide a unique appointment booking experience to each customer based on how they best receive such messages.

Offering multiple payment options is another tool you can use to provide more flexibility for clients. Some customers will prefer to pay with cash, while others will want to use a card. Others may prefer to pay with a mobile app or simply want to prepay for their appointment online. Have the tools for all of these options, and every appointment experience can be a different one.

4. Track Key Data Metrics

Customers won’t always know going into an appointment what sort of customization options they would like. Neither will you without getting to know them better. Keeping track of all of your customers and their personal tastes is a tall order, but it can be done in part by tracking some key data metrics.

Data can tell you a lot about your customers, their habits, and future trends they might follow. Take a look at your customer demographics, for starters. The customization options you provide can reflect your primary demographics. If most of your customers are students from a local college, they might like different options in the lobby for getting some studies done or accessing the internet from their personal devices.

You can also look at different behavioral statistics. Your morning customers might enjoy a fully customizable coffee bar to perk up their appointments, while customers who arrive late in the evening might prefer various entertainment options toward the end of their day.

5. Let Customers Take a Stance

You can enable your customers to take a stance for what they believe in without forcing ideals upon anyone who is uninterested. Take recycling, for example. Some of your customers might be into recycling and other renewable efforts. Having that option at your place of business will really speak to them without pushing away those customers who feel indifferent.

How about customizing a donation program? Allowing customers to round up their charges to the nearest dollar and putting that money toward a good cause can make for a gratifying end to an appointment. Support multiple charities and outreach programs, and your customers will be able to choose where they wish to donate should they feel inclined to do so. Once again, customers who don’t feel like donating at the moment won’t be required to.

Be careful not to provide too many customization options, or your customers and staff might get overwhelmed. However, including some personalization to each appointment will go a long way toward building firm relationships with your clientele and boosting those retention numbers for years to come.

Image Credit: Alex Green; Pexels; Thank you!

How Your Appointment-Based Business Can Stay Competitive This Year

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Appointment-Based Business

There are numerous ongoing challenges entrepreneurs face when starting and running an appointment-based business. One of them is learning how to position yourself against the many competitors in your industry. Where there’s one business in a particular space, there are many others vying for the same customers.

There’s no perfect business formula that guarantees you’ll be the best appointment-based business on the block. However, the list of competitive methods you can use to boost your business is extensive. These are just a few effective ways you can make your own company stay relevant this year:

Provide a Simple Online Portal System

The easier it is for customers to make appointments, the more bookings you’ll fill. A complicated appointment scheduling process is not a system that will keep you competitive.

Take a look at your current online portal. Start by analyzing the layout of your website. You want everything to be straightforward and easy to find. The simpler your navigation, the better. Use clear, clickable action buttons that guide users through the booking process and enhance the user experience.

The overall design of your online portal is also important. Use colors that can easily be associated with your brand without being oppressive or hard on the eyes. You can also fill blank spaces with images or other designs to make your online portal more attractive.

Offer Incentives

With so many businesses in the hunt, it can be a challenge at times to differentiate yourself from the competition. You should always prioritize improving your services over anything else. You should also consider providing some complimentary features to put your business over the top. Offering incentives is one way your business can set itself apart.

Incentives are especially effective at bringing in new customers. Prospective customers might be lured to your business over the competition due to an ongoing promotion. If you run a hair salon, for example, you might offer a free styling product with every haircut. A service station could do a free tire rotation with every oil change. Once you get new clients through the door using incentives, you can wow them with your services to convince them to return.

Speaking of customer retention, you can implement an incentive program for that, too. Frequent visitors can accrue points for free services or other rewards. A referral program can get you new customers and simultaneously reward your existing customer base.

Offer Online Payment Options

Many customers today prefer to make payments online rather than in person. Making a payment online takes much less time than scanning a card at the front desk or counting out the cash in one’s wallet. This leads to shorter appointment times for customers, who will always appreciate the efficiency.

Online payments also mean you get your money faster. Sending customers bills after an appointment will result in lag time before you receive payment. Worse still, such bills require your staff to print them out and mail them, costing time and money. With online payments, you can receive your fee as an appointment is being booked, even before the customer arrives at your place of business.

To make your online payment options competitive, don’t include processing fees for people who choose to pay online. These sorts of fees can easily turn customers away. Also look for ways to include all of your customer’s preferred online payment options, such as accepting multiple types of credit cards or even top payment apps such as Paypal or Venmo.

Provide COVID Updates

There are still lots of consumers out there who are worried about the different strains of COVID-19. Be respectful of these customer concerns and look for ways to make your business accommodating to them while still operating at full capacity.

A simple way you can assist these customers and keep your appointment-based business competitive in 2022 is to provide COVID updates for your area. You can include these updates on your business website or using your brand’s social media pages. This will let customers know what measures you’re taking to limit the spread of the virus, such as requiring masks or limiting appointment bookings as cases rise.

Don’t just stop at COVID news. Use your business influence to provide updates on other noteworthy community events. For example, you can use your website and social media pages to advertise local events such as fundraisers, food drives, and more. Getting involved in the community allows you to draw closer to your local customers and create an emotional bond that competing businesses will envy.

The most important thing to remember for your appointment-based business is that in order to stay competitive, you cannot settle. If you start to coast, you leave room for one of your competitors to catch up to you. Continue to set goals for yourself and your business throughout 2022 and be willing to try new things. You will always find yourself in the pack of the best appointment-based businesses around.

Image Credit: George Milton; Pexels; Thanks!

4 Methods to Improve Client Retention

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Methods to Improve Client Retention

There are two great battles being waged by businesses every single day: the fight to get new customers and the fight to get them to stay. Customer acquisition and client retention are a never-ending cycle for companies, one that requires a lot of time and effort to manage.

While it’s important for a business to always be looking for new customers, once a good clientele is established, retention is debatably a higher priority. Not only is it less expensive than acquisition, but having loyal customers will ensure that you’re continuously pulling in revenue to keep your company running smoothly.

Once you recognize the need to pay more attention to boosting customer retention, it’s time to take action. Here are a few ways you can make a more concentrated effort to keep your clientele around for the long haul:

1. Reminders When They Schedule

When a person books an appointment with your business, it’s their responsibility to remember the date and time they’ve selected and uphold their commitment. However, that doesn’t mean you should sit back and hope that every customer fulfills their end of the deal. A person’s plans might change, or details may simply be forgotten while navigating a busy schedule.

Providing your customers with appointment reminders adds extra security to each booking. This will make sure patrons get through the door on their first visit and ensure they can enjoy a high-quality experience that leads them to book future appointments with your business.

Appointment reminders can be provided in a variety of ways. You could write up appointment cards at the front desk, give a call the day before, or send texts, emails, or even app notifications. Customers should be able to choose how they receive their reminders, ensuring that they’re helpful and effective rather than pointless or irritating.

2. Periodic Complimentary Services

When you periodically reward your faithful customers, you’re more likely to see new ones stick around in the hope of getting those same deals. Incentives have long been a powerful tool for client retention. That’s why rewards programs that use recurring visits to accrue redeemable points are so commonplace today. If you reward loyalty, you’ll see it more often.

You don’t have to put together an entire rewards program to improve your customer retention. Get started by including one complimentary service that any repeat customer can take advantage of. For example, many car dealerships offer free oil changes to any person who purchases a new car from their lot. The sale of a new car is worth a lot more than a few oil changes, and this deal will keep the customer coming back, opening the door for more potential sales.

Some of the complimentary services you provide can be permanent. For instance, providing in-house Wi-Fi for guests is a relatively small gesture, but it will add to the overall appointment experience and promote retention at the same time.

3. Check In When It’s Been Awhile

If you haven’t seen a customer for an extended period of time, reach out to them. Let them know that they’re more than just a successfully closed sale. You want to be of service to them for a long time, not just take their money for one transaction and send them on their way.

When checking in with customers, be sure to make your interactions as personal as possible. Consumers can easily tell whether or not a company is being sincere. They will notice when a message is crafted from a template as opposed to one that is customized just for them. Send them an email that references past visits, or give them a call to check in and offer your services. This, in turn, can help your business improve its client retention.

4. Ask for Feedback

Sometimes in order to improve retention, you have to make a few adjustments. Instead of making changes blindly and hoping they work, ask your clientele for their honest feedback. Soliciting feedback from customers who only visited once is especially valuable because they can often share a specific reason they did not return.

The easiest way to receive feedback is through survey responses. After a customer has completed their appointment, send a thank-you email with a link to your survey. Ask specific questions about their experience and be sure to provide an opportunity for them to speak their mind on issues you might have overlooked.

Perhaps you are struggling to get feedback from your customers. Or, you just want to reward those who complete your survey. If either of these are the case, attach a little incentive. This should be something general, like a coupon code for Amazon, for example. This way, it also appeals to customers who only visited your business once and aren’t likely to return; At least not until changes are made.

Image Credit: Life of Pix; Pexels; Thanks!

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