If you run or manage a business, you know that often, day to day operations – the little things that aren’t supposed to be that big of a deal, but end up taking tons out time out of your day – can pile up and become big problems, if you don’t keep on top of them. You’ve got a team of great employees, but even with their help, mounting day-to-day responsibilities can often overtake the team and make it hard to work efficiently. Especially if you have a small team, even one little scheduling crisis or customer service issue can set you back and cost you so much time.
That’s why more and more business owners and managers are using technology to help streamline, organize and improve efficiency in their places of business. Whether you’re running a small operation with a couple of employees, or a larger corporation with an entire team behind you, these solutions can help improve productivity by taking those little, finicky tasks and doing them for you so you and your team and concentrate on more important work. We’ve laid out a few of our favorite ideas below.
Most retail companies have some type of POS system – you have to, in order to ring up items and run credit cards. In the past, however, it would usually be some antiquated, complicated system that consisted of a separate register, a credit card machine, a separate receipt or invoice printer, and a separate spreadsheet to track inventory and fill orders. If a mistake was made on one, the entire system would have to start over.
Gone are the days of writing down or printing an order, entering the CC details manually, printing a receipt or invoice, then logging into the computer to generate a shipping label. Now, many POS software services offer ALL of this and MORE in one easy to use POS software program.
Most of these, such as Shopify and others, can be used via computer or even through an app on your cellphone. These POS platforms streamline everything and it’s all done in one place. The moment the customer places the order, everything from running the card to generating the invoice, creating a shipping label and even handling customer service and follow up emails, are all handled with that platform. The customer’s data is saved within the account they create, making it easier for them and for you to keep track of their order history. Things like discounts, taxes and even refunds and exchanges are all handled within this app.
These programs are so helpful because not only can you keep up with customers and their orders, but these POS platforms help you track inventory (and place orders yourself) handle customer service emails, advertising/promotional newsletters, discount codes and incentives, and even collect tax information to make filing taxes easier for you. It handles all the POS work for you.
Best of all, most of these platforms are pretty affordable, often having various “tiers” you can pay for depending on what services you want and need/the volume of your business. Some offer a monthly subscription rate while others can be bought outright. The choice is yours. But either way: getting a POS platform will save you so much time, and money, too.
Scheduling and Planning Software
Most businesses have some semblance of scheduling and planning software, or at the very least, a spreadsheet they refer to. Often, though, if the system isn’t organized well, outdated, or isn’t able to be utilized by the entire team, mistakes can happen, and happen often. Doesn’t a software that keeps all your employee scheduling, as well as your own individual schedule, in the same place sound like a great idea? What if this scheduling software also handled other aspects of team/employee management, such as organizing breaks, handling time-off, vacations and maternity/bereavement leave, and even logged overtime hours? And organized these analytics so you could view them and make decisions based on productivity?
Luckily, there are a few really great visual planning and schedule software programs/apps on the market right now that do just that, plus more. These programs are great because not only do they handle basic scheduling but they offer so much more – including a real time look at performance, cost vs time, and so much more. Scheduling can be such a headache, because it’s often about more than just scheduling. You’re trying to be fair to each worker while honoring their outside-work obligations, time-off requests, trying to make sure nobody is getting too much overtime, and so on. With a simple system, all of that is done for you, eliminating workplace conflict and giving the entire team an easy login and ability to look at their own schedules, as well as using the program to log in and log out of work every day (i.e. punching the time clock), and more.
Resource scheduling software is a great investment for any manager or business owner who manages a decent-sized team and is tired of spending hours on the weekly schedule. With great graphics, real-time updates and helpful analytics, you’ll never go back to that boring Excel spreadsheet again.
Some POS softwares/apps and even the occasional scheduling app offer in-app accounting software, and that’s definitely an option for you.
But if your business is on the larger side, or you deal with quite a lot of overhead, inventory costs, manage many employees’ payroll, or just don’t feel comfortable handling business finances, including taxes, on your own, a bookkeeping software is a great idea. Any bookkeeping employee will tell you that these can make a huge difference, holding your business accountable and reducing the margin for error.
Bookkeeping software can handle financial aspects of your business both incoming and outgoing, including sales, refunds, inventory costs, payroll, bonuses, severance/worker’s comp payments, insurance payments, taxes, fees, business and supplies costs, and so much more. Many new software options even allow you to link the software or app with your bank/business account, saving your card information and making online purchases and bill pay a total snap.
In-Office Clouds and Other Communication
If you have a large team, consider streamlining in-office communications by using a cloud or other app/communication software that allows everyone to communicate easily via their phones or computers. Whether it’s via chat, video conference or an internal email system, all messages are archived, and information can be easily shared between colleagues, helping everyone get their work done more efficiently and quickly.
There are many apps and software programs out there that can be used for in-office communications; it’s just a matter of picking your favorite. If you don’t want to shell out for another software, you can always use already existing platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Team or Google chat, but you won’t have as many new, exciting features.
You might think that email is all but obsolete these days, and that nobody reads those “spam” emails from companies anymore, but you’d actually be wrong.
The art of the “marketing email” is still very much going strong. Customers and clients still sign up for newsletters every day, happily signing on to be informed about their favorite product or service. They enjoy the feeling of being “in the know” on their favorite products and companies before the average person does.
If you run a business that relies on marketing, having a newsletter or promotional email every now and again is just good business. You don’t have to overdo it, but even one or two a year can make a huge difference. And if you do these promotional emails, you need an email list. Further, if you have an email list, you need an email marketing platform to keep everything organized and in one place.
Good email platforms for this include the old stand by, MailChimp, as well as many other new and efficient email marketing platforms out there. Whether you’re curating your emails via an app on your phone or on the computer, these programs can help you whip up a professional, efficient email for your entire list in a total snap, as well as help you curate and organize all your other correspondence, keep up with meetings and new contacts, and so much more. These platforms can also handle inter-office emails, remind you to respond to clients and contacts, and even generate form emails for when you’re just too busy.
These are just a few ideas for great online platforms, apps and software that can help make your business run more efficiently, save you time and improve employee productivity. By upgrading your technology in the office, you can get a handle on those pesky day to day tasks that formerly took up all your time, and focus on the more important (and fun) aspects of running your business. Treat yourself to some great new business technology today. Your employees and your clients will thank you for it.