This is a guest post from Paul Sokol. You can find more from Paul at www.paulsokol.me
Hi blog readers! I’m Paul Sokol, automated experience authority, and I was chatting with Micky here at Kahuna Accounting and he invited me to write this guest post about how automation can make your accounting life easier.
When it comes to automation, you probably think about the marketing and sales applications. You know, the “Give me your email in exchange for X” kind of stuff.
While these are completely legitimate uses for automation, people often forget that they can automate habitual operations. Or, at the very least, systematize it so that way the people doing the work are abundantly clear about what needs to happen and by when.
What follows are three tested-and-proven examples of how automation can make the financial aspects of your business a little easier.
1. Recurring Payment Reminders
I use this strategy personally for my own clients and have helped others build this out. It saves a bunch of time and helps ensure that clients are making their payments on time.
The strategy is simple: Send automated email reminders when it is time for a client to make a payment.
For example, let’s say you have a client that makes payments on the 15th of every month. You can easily setup a system to email your client on the 15th that says “Hey, today you need to make your payment”.
I’ve also seen CPAs use this for quarterly and annual reminders as well. Not necessarily for making payments, but for reminding clients about important tax deadlines (more on that below).
If you have any clients making manual payments on a specific schedule, you can implement this strategy to minimize the risk of people not making their payments.
2. Failed Payment Recovery
What about the situations where you are automatically billing people’s credit cards? Have you ever considering using automation here?
This is also something I do in my own personal business and something I’ve setup for numerous clients. In fact, this strategy is so effective it was developed into a pre-built campaign template for Infusionsoft users.
Here’s the idea: When a payment fails, automatically start some process/workflow to recover the payment.
Sounds simple, right? You’d be shocked at how many businesses (even some of the big names) have no intentional process for recovering failed credit cards. What’s even worse is that the business has already earned that money; its not like you need to sell anything else before you can recover the payment.
Often, people will completely ignore (or not even be aware) that failed payments are happening. If they are, it’s a sporadic recovery process that happens whenever the business “finds the time”.
This strategy allows you to strike while the iron is hot! For example, the simplest version of this strategy is for a failed payment to create a task for someone to call immediately as soon as the payment fails.
By contacting the customer when the payment fails, it gives you a chance to further build the relationship as well. That personal touch, at the right point in time, can easily turn a normal customer into a raving fan. This is one of those key opportunities in your business’ customer experience, maximize it!
3. Operational Habit Reminders
This strategy I don’t hear a lot about. Mainly because its operational stuff and people are more hush hush around that than they are sharing specific marketing/sales tactics.
I can confidently say that this works for my business and the couple of clients I’ve set it up for.
Here is the idea: For any meaningful habit that occurs on your business periodically, create automated processes/workflows to track that they are happening.
Let’s use the simple example of a weekly transfer from checking to savings. Pretend that this business looks at all inbound deposits from the week and, every Friday, they move 25% over into a savings account.
Every Friday. The same thing.
If you are mindful enough, you’ll recognize that it is a weekly financial habit and that you can create an automated weekly workflow which assigns a task for someone to make these transfers every week. By having it in a system, not only will it ensure that the people accountable for the work are being informed they have a job to do, but it will also give you operational efficiency data.
Was Tom assigned to make the Friday transfers but he keeps marking the tasks as complete on Monday? Time to talk to Tim and see what’s happening because those should be getting completed on Fridays.
Look at other habits. Quarterly tax payments are a great one. Don’t waste your brain power trying to remember when stuff needs to be paid. Setup a system to email (or create a task) every quarter when things are due. Then it’s business as usual until, oh look, it’s time to make my payroll tax payment for this quarter.
I hope you’ve found some ideas for yourself and your business in these ideas. The key takeaway is this: be mindful of the repeating tasks and habits you do every day. Chances are you can leverage automation to either fully automate or streamline your workflow 🙂