4 Ways Your Service Business Can Optimize Its Approach to Shifts, Scheduling, and Appointments

For entrepreneurs who run service businesses, labor is the most important resource. However, many small businesses struggle with keeping track of appointments, managing client requests, and scheduling shifts in the most cost-effective way. Customer relationship management isn’t just a big-business buzzword; it’s an essential part of providing the best possible service and keeping customer satisfaction high. Read on to discover four ideas for making the most of your business’s time.

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Sort Out Your Client Calls

Especially if you’re used to taking business calls on your personal phone, it can be frustrating to interrupt your work several times an hour to take calls from unknown numbers, hoping that some of them will be well-qualified clients. Worse yet, once you put down the phone, it’s hard to keep track of the conversation, relevant action steps, and when you need to reconnect.

Call tracking technology can help you make quick evaluations about the potential future value of each call so you can get in touch with the highest-priority opportunities first. You don’t need to invest in an enterprise-grade phone system to use tools like this; instead, look for apps that give your phone a second number, reserved for your business, that offers it. Apps like Ninja Number also provide features for your employees to handle calls and messaging as a team, so you’ll spend less time trying to figure out who needs to call which customer when. If your company conducts a lot of business by phone, smart solutions beyond what your cell phone offers are critical to managing your customers’ needs.

Get Smart About Scheduling

Does your company use a software solution to schedule shifts or appointments? If not, you’re not the only one—a 2016 survey found that almost 30% of small businesses hadn’t tried the high-tech approach to solve their scheduling woes, and 12% of those didn’t use any scheduling tools at all—not even a calendar. With one or two diligent team members, you might be able to make an informal scheduling system work, but whether you schedule shifts at a retail location or make appointments for client services, even a brief surge in demand will strain your organizational capacities.

Fortunately, there are plenty of scheduling solutions available for small businesses of all types, like 10to8, Calendly, and MINDBODY, each of which are tailored to meet the unique needs of a certain business segment. Not sure where to begin? Consider how you’ll integrate your appointment tools with your existing tech solutions; for instance, Square Appointments are designed to work with the popular Square POS hardware.

Manage Your Customer Relationships

Years ago, businesses kept track of information about their clients with file cabinets and Rolodexes full of paper documents, sticky notes, and business cards. Modern businesses, however, have the opportunity to streamline this process with specialized software known as customer relationship management software. CRMs can keep track of customer purchases, transactions, and points of contact, but many offer features beyond that, designed to integrate with personalized marketing efforts, customer support services, or automated surveys and follow-up efforts. Particularly for businesses that depend on maintaining a strong relationship with customers throughout numerous points of contact, like professional accounting services or personal styling, CRM can provide the personalized approach that’s necessary for becoming a market leader. You don’t need a big budget to make personalized customer experience work for your business; check out this list of CRM options that are all under $60 per month.

Work With Your Employees

While technology is indispensable for managing your team’s schedule, you can often improve your workflow by getting feedback from employees about what scheduling changes would work for them. Try to match employees with tasks they perform well to minimize the amount of time they need to complete their responsibilities on each shift. If your business uses automated shift-scheduling software, check to make sure that the program doesn’t accidentally schedule the same person for a closing and opening shift back-to-back; often, this won’t allow workers enough time to rest between shifts, increasing the risk of error and, in certain industries, costly injuries. Service businesses thrive when they can retain good employees, so make sure to consider their needs when you’re making a schedule.

As your business grows, the importance of time management will only increase. Stay ahead of future organizational issues by developing a smart, scalable way to manage shifts and appointments now.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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