Okay, I run into this at LEAST once a week, so let me take a step back from my usual blog posts and dig into a little of what automation actually means for your business. The truth is, lots of business owners are “sure” of what a CRM and automation can do for them, but precious few approach it with an idea of applying technology and automation to truly serve their company and their clients.
In a nutshell, you and your business have a critical NEED to understand and undertake the building of systems to effectively grow a tax practice.
The classic example – a la Michael E. Gerber – is to document and write out the system, the processes, and the techniques you and your team use in the business to achieve your goals.
No lie, that’s simple, old school, analog technology.
The primary goal of this documentation is focused on things. Repetitive tasks that need to be done over and over, whether that that’s every day, every week, or once a year … you document these procedures and the actual steps to achieve a specific outcome that regular – that’s not to say uneducated or untrained – people can do, based on the task at hand and the jobs to be done.
A salesperson in your business knows and understands ideas, concepts, and systems your production team doesn’t. Your VA has to be aware of processes your bookkeeper doesn’t need to know about. The real irony, then, is that when Michael identified and then wrote The E-Myth, everything – every system, every process, every refinement – HAD to be written. On the other hand, systems documentation – and eventual automation – as we’re discussing it here, has NOTHING to do with the individual person, only the job that person is expected to do.
The real goal of creating systems and then deploying automation within them is this: McDonalds is designed so any reasonable person, with a certain basic skill level (let’s call it “entry level”) can learn how to cook a McDonalds’ cheeseburger, but you might need a classically trained chef to execute a recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook. While someone with training in French cuisine might be harder to find, here’s what most people miss:
Neither the person cooking the cheeseburger nor the chef cooking the Choucroute Garnie à l’Alsacienne needs to be “great” insofar as their actual ranking of their skills IF the systems are designed to show them what, exactly, to do.
The point is, your systems,and thus, your automation, allows you to achieve a given goal consistently.
Your clients get the same product, the same service, the same quality every time they “go through” that system, whether they’re buying a cheeseburger or a Class A office building.
The phone is always answered by the second ring. The process to onboard the client is the same for every client, every time. The timeline for launch or closing or fulfillment is the exact same every time. And so on, and so on, and so on…
So let’s look at some processes and procedures where there are multiple repetitive things that need to be done, but from a slightly longer view. Let’s say you’re just looking at the process of onboarding a new client.
You can – and should – automate that.
Create a system where the client receives an email welcoming them, and then explains the process. That might include submitting certain things, or completing certain tasks, uploading documents, or payment information, or countless other things. Accounting firms have done a GREAT job with this for decades, but today, the automation software is so inexpensive it’s foolish not use it.
But we’re talking about automation, so let’s keep on track – once the client has uploaded the information, certain things – tasks – can be set in motion by the client’s action. For example, client uploads their documents, that action prompts a new set of tasks. Maybe to the account manager or a personal trainer, which is an internal automation – one the client might never see, but your team would. The task might be simple – schedule the first call, or the intake visit, or to review the client’s information. Once that’s done, it’s moved over to the next step. And then it pops up into somebody else’s prospect or inbox for them to do and take the next step.
Ultimately, each “step” can have a certain amount of time the person responsible for it can have before alternate automation sets off, potentially to a manager, stating this or that account or task hasn’t been completed and for them to follow up internally to find out what’s going on.
In any case, ALL of these pieces can be automated, and the client can be notified as things move along. Bear in mind, this automation could simply be a task for an administrative person, or an automated email, or even a text. It could also ask for any additional items, share or give access to video trainings, or ANY other action you need the clients to take.
Every. Single. Time.
The best part of it all is the most obvious: you’re using this automation to save you and your team some steps AND to guarantee the overall quality of your client’s experience. No more dropped balls, or lost accounts.
…And there are literally TONS of places you can use this exact same logic or process, so now the technology keeps track of what’s going on and allows those good, average people to focus on the end goal: taking care of the client.
A lot of this automation can live in a very few pieces of software. You ALL know I use and recommend Keap, and it integrates with all the other technology for our businesses.
What’s important to remember, as you begin to dig into using automation, is you’ll be amazed at what can be done, and how easily. Even better? When you deploy it, you’ll be amazed at how much it can do, and at nearly every turn, you’ll find new ways to implement it.