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  • Why I chose 17hats for my business

    I’m not exaggerating when I say that the reason I was finally able to start my entrepreneurial journey is largely thanks to the 17hats platform. For years I dreamt of running a service-based business but I was so worried about piecing together all of the different tech platforms that I got nowhere with that dream. After getting a look inside my friend’s 17hats platform and seeing all it’s capable of, suddenly starting that business no longer felt out of reach and years later I’m still running strong with 17hats supporting my business every day. Let me tell you in a bit more detail about why I chose 17hats for my business! It provides all of the basic business documents From lead capture forms and questionnaires, to quotes, contracts and invoices, I’m able to create multiple templates for each of these types of documents and use them in my client projects. Project folders then house all of the documents for any particular client, so there’s no switching back and forth between a lead capture form platform to an invoicing platform, etc. in order to get the full picture of any one project. But nothing about the capabilities of these documents is basic… Lead capture forms can be linked to or embedded in my website; they can map to my tokens that I use later in email and quote templates; they apply tags for me that allow me to dig deep into my business; and they’ll initiate my workflow - or in some cases, different workflows depending on options that get selected on the form. Questionnaires have incredible if / then logic that helps me get just the right info I need from a client without a ton of back-and-forth emails. Plus, they can map to more tokens that I can use in my product descriptions, contracts and more. Then my clients can access a quote, contract and invoice all from the same button in a single email! And I have so much to say about the flexibility of 17hats quotes, but namely, they allow for customers to make selections that then transform into an invoice. Talk about streamlined! Read more: "To quote or not to quote? Streamlining in 17hats" 17hats grows with your business Having dreamt about this service-based business for some time, I knew that at some point I would also offer appointments with my clients that would be scheduled online. Guess what? 17hats could do that for me, too. You know how it is when you’re trying to pick a time with someone over email, and dates and times start to get mixed up… add in different time zones... and forget it! With my 17hats scheduler I can send over a link to my clients so they can see my available times and (just as with a lead capture form) I can get the preliminary info I need for the appointment with additional questions; I can start a workflow; and I can even accept payment at the time of booking as needed. Once again, my clients’ answers, their payments and their workflow will also live inside their individual project folder, meaning there aren’t any tricky integrations needed between a scheduling platform and an invoicing platform. What’s not to love?! And with the bookkeeping and lead source reports, 17hats helps you grow, too, by showing you your top products / services, your top customers and where they’re coming from. Utilize these reports along with a streamlined client experience and it seems impossible not to grow. Life before and after 17hats Before I was introduced to this powerful platform, I just couldn’t find my footing in the entrepreneurial world. Researching all the different platforms for all the different needs of a service-based business was exhausting. So I continued to dream, but mostly I felt stuck. Now, thanks to some encouragement from that friend who saw my knack for navigating the system, not only have I created my service-based business, but that service has become helping clients discover what 17hats can do for their businesses! I spend hours a day inside the platform customizing workflows, lead capture forms and more thanks to all of the features 17hats offers. I’m a proud ambassador as well, and the more I learn about the company behind the platform, the stronger I feel about its direction and its ability to support my business needs and the needs of my clients’ businesses over time. In summary In summary, 17hats gave me the confidence to start a business because it was ready to support me with each part of my client experience I care so deeply about. I’d love to help you discover how 17hats can support your client experience, too! Grab 50% off your first year (even after a 7-day free trial) with code “letnicolehelp”, or keep learning with a free download: 17 cool features of 17hats. Rooting for you!

  • How to clean up your 17hats dashboard

    Is your 17hats dashboard crammed with any of the following: new lead notifications (that are actually old)... undone to-do items and workflow tasks… or emails and documents from old projects? If yes, a) you’re not alone; and b) it’s time to clean up 17hats so that you can make the most of this powerful tool! Why you may need to clean up your 17hats dashboard This commonly happens when you’re still figuring out how to incorporate and use workflows to their fullest. Unfortunately, once those dashboard lists start getting longer and longer, not only is it hard to know where to start, but it’s almost impossible to log in and feel inspired by what you see. (Am I right?!) So let’s look at how we can clean up your 17hats dashboard and turn it into the place you go for helpful direction in your business each and every day… Do your workflow steps match your process? First, take note of what workflow steps are left undone and examine why. Are they not needed? Does your workflow ask you to send a document before you have all the information you need for the document? Maybe a certain to-do task is completely unneeded and holding things up? See what you can do to fix the underlying issue(s) that cause your dashboard to get cluttered so that it is less likely to happen again. Now that you’ve taken care of some potential causes, it’s time to clean up! Clean up old 17hats projects Navigate to your PROJECTS tab on the far left. And so we can select multiple projects at once, change the view to the list view if needed. Now start checking the boxes to the left of those old 17hats projects that you know can be archived (the project date column is likely a huge help in this). After you’ve selected multiple projects, use the new “Bulk Actions” button that appears in the top right of this section to archive them. Depending on the number of active projects you have open, you may need to repeat this process until you no longer see pages to scroll to at the bottom of the screen. After you’ve archived as many projects as you feel comfortable through that method, hopefully you can already see some progress on your dashboard. "Clean up your 17hats dashboard and turn it into the place you go for helpful direction in your business each and every day." At this point, you may need to click into each project to refresh yourself on its status. Review the Important Documents section and the email exchanges to figure out what action needs to be taken next. Perhaps you’ve skipped over some of the workflow items for this project and you can either delete or mark those steps as completed. Or maybe you simply need to execute the workflow task that’s been prompted for you. Now that you’ve clicked into each project and properly executed the next step, your dashboard should be looking even more friendly. But let’s talk about two more sections that might be loaded up with clutter. Get document reminders to help you clean up your dashboard For each of the past due document sections, setting up your automated document reminders will help! Navigate to Account Settings > Email Settings > Reminders tab to turn on reminders for the documents you’d like. There are a ton of options for the timing and frequency of these automated reminders (before and after the document due date), and you can customize your message using tokens as well. Just keep in mind that these are global, automatic messages that will apply to every live document in your account. Clean up your email section Ok final section (that may or may not be populating to your dashboard): the Emails To Reply To section. Here is where emails from your 17hats contacts may populate if you have that setting turned on (Account Settings > Email Settings > “Show emails on dashboard” checkbox). I find this can be helpful, just for an extra reminder to address the email and make sure it doesn’t get lost in the inbox of your email service provider. But chances are, if this section has that “50+” count on it, it’s not serving you. Use the navigation above to uncheck that box and continue using your email service provider to communicate back and forth with emails (unless, of course, your next step in that project is to send a 17hats template!) Conclusion I really hope this guide has helped you clean up your 17hats dashboard so that it can be the helpful resource it’s meant to be when you log in each day! If you’re finding that you just can’t get your workflow steps to match your process like you need - I’m here to help! Let’s hop on some Zoom calls or work together for a customized setup that suits you and your customers.

  • How to automate Google reviews and Google Business Profile

    Collecting customer reviews can have a significant impact on a business’s social proof, search ranking and process improvement. That’s why it’s critical to make reviews an important part of your strategy. Not sure how? In this article we’ll cover not only how to automate Google reviews (requesting them and what to do when you receive them), but also how to optimize Google Business Profile listings. Rather watch, listen and learn? Tune into the webinar on this topic that I hosted with Sam of Whiskey SEO below! And grab a workbook to follow along here. Automate Google reviews: requesting and receiving With the help of an automation tool like 17hats CRM (affiliate link) or Zapier, for example, you can easily send out requests for reviews for each customer and project with just a bit of initial setup. To automate Google reviews from your CRM, you can simply add an email template (that includes the direct link to leave a review) into your workflow at the point where the product or service fulfillment is complete. The timing of this request can vary: If a product was shipped, you would wait to request a review until a) the item has been delivered; and b) your customer has had enough time to fully experience the product Similarly for services, your best bet for a thorough review may depend on the type of service completed. Sometimes instant results are delivered, but some services have more of a lasting impact that isn’t necessarily felt until further down the line. Experiment with the timing of your service review request to hone in on the time frame when you get your most thoughtful reviews. “Experiment with the timing of your service review request to hone in on the time frame when you get your most thoughtful reviews.” Perhaps you’re not using a CRM yet. Zapier can still step in and automate Google review requests for you. Maybe a payment notification from Square or Stripe initiates an automated email from Gmail or Outlook (which, again, includes the direct link to leave a review). Other ideas to automate Google reviews through Zapier could include: Adding a delay to your Zapier automation so the email gets sent to your customer after a certain period of time Having a draft email created for you to quickly send later Setting up an automation with a reminder app to remind you to send the email template including your Google review link The Google Business Profile automation that’s right for you might depend on your preferences and your type of business, but the potential solutions are almost endless. What about when you receive a Google Business Profile review? Now, you’re likely to get an email notification from Google about the review. This might be able to serve as your reminder to respond to the customer and create a social post from it (for example)... but we all know how crowded our inboxes can get. Instead, consider Zapier automations such as: sending a DM in Slack to a team member (asking them to create that social post) recording the review in a spreadsheet (to refer back to later) or adding a task in Trello (to actually respond to the review). By sending these specific follow-up actions out across your app suite, you’re far more likely to actually complete them and benefit more fully from each and every review you receive. “By sending specific follow-up actions out across your app suite, you’re far more likely to actually complete them and benefit more fully from each and every review you receive.” More on how to optimize Google Business Profile Now that you’ve got some ideas for how to automate your Google reviews, let’s talk about how to optimize Google Business Profile so more leads can find you and have a chance at leaving you a review in the first place. As Sam of Whiskey SEO shares, there are loads of benefits to optimizing your Google Business Profile, including: It’s free and easy to use “Near me” searches continue to grow year after year You can’t show up in Google Map Pack without a Google Business Profile You’ll get access to insights and analytics about how your customers are finding your business In the webinar we hosted together, Sam also shared directions and great tips for how to optimize Google Business Profile and grow your business through its upkeep… one of which is staying active through posts to your profile. Now if you’re anything like me and the thought of maintaining yet another social media-like profile sounds daunting, I’ve got good news. Zapier to the rescue again! For example, you’re able to duplicate all of your Instagram feed posts as Google Business Profile posts with this automation. I cover it in more detail in the webinar and free download above, but to get started you’ll connect the two accounts through Zapier, then use the Instagram caption and media URL to post to Google Business Profile along with some settings for the action button that will also post to Google Business Profile. Then before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to optimizing your Google Business Profile without any extra steps! Conclusion “Creating and keeping up with your Google Business Profile will be worth your efforts.” To summarize, creating and keeping up with your Google Business Profile will be worth your efforts. And thanks to automations through Zapier and CRMs like 17hats, it’s possible to automate Google reviews and posts that are a huge part of a strong profile. If you’d like to get started creating a stronger profile, don’t miss the free resources above. And for some personalized help with these automations, feel free to reach out and see how we can work together to make it happen!

  • The 3 most underutilized features in 17hats

    There are so many settings and features in this powerful CRM that it’s easy to miss some here or there. In this article, I’ll share with you what I’d consider to be the three most underutilized features in 17hats. Even if you’ve got some workflows running smoothly, you may not be using the platform to its full potential. Use of these features can help you stay on track with all aspects of your business, and get some high-level insight into the different types of projects you’re completing with your customers. Plus, I’ll explain how all of these features work together to help you discover these insights and take action based on what you find. Here’s what we’ll cover: To-do lists Tags Recent client activity First off, the to-do lists I love these for keeping track of all the recurring tasks in my business. Things like paying bills, updating my website, checking in on my lead sources, managing my email list and more. And these tasks can be set up to repeat at various daily, weekly, monthly or yearly intervals, making it really easy for you to stay on top of all the things you need to do as a business owner. Also see: Steps to track lead sources They can also be organized and placed onto separate to-do lists. I currently have lists for marketing items, financial items and miscellaneous items. Other to-do list ideas could include inventory and personnel items, for example. The last thing to know about the to-do list section is that you can also view and manage any to-dos taking place in your workflows from here. They will automatically populate on the top, under “Due & Upcoming”. Next, let’s talk tags. Tags are such great ways to add little bits of information to your contacts and projects. I especially love adding tags to any drop-down questions I ask in my lead capture forms and questionnaires. Then, depending on what my customers select in that question, I can have a different tag applied. As an example, while I set up the 17hats accounts of my balloon business clients, one of the questions on the lead capture form is typically “what are you celebrating?” I prefer to make this a drop-down type of question because I can then have a project tag automatically applied that correlates to the type of event the customer selects. By doing this, my clients will now have the ability to search on their projects to find how many weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, etc. they are decorating for. If they find they are doing a lot of decor for any particular type of event, I always like to encourage they express that in their marketing so that prospective customers will know that my clients are proficient in their customers’ needs for that type of event. Tags can also be applied in the settings of your lead capture forms, your online scheduling and in your workflows. Tags to use in these areas might include “inquiry” and “booked” versions of the type of project that’s running. Thinking back to the balloon businesses I work with, an example of this type of tag implementation would be a “balloon decor inquiry” tag being automatically applied through the lead capture form. Then, as the workflow progresses and the lead becomes a customer by paying an invoice, a tag such as “booked balloon decor” could be automatically applied to the project (and contact). With these tagging systems in place, you can then utilize your to-do lists to get reminders to search upon these tags and get some insight as to how many “inquiry” versus “booked” jobs you’ve had, therefore finding a conversion rate. The third of the underutilized features in 17hats... ... to consider using is in the lower right of your Dashboard (under the weather widget). It’s a small section labeled “Recent Client Activity” and in the top right corner of that section, check out the “See All Activity” link to open up a ton of insight into the documents and bookings you have with your customers. See what’s been sent, paid, signed, etc. and filter by project or customer name, dates and even those tags you’ve started implementing. In the balloon business example, if tags that correlate to the type of event have been incorporated, now you would also be able to see all the invoices paid that have that tag attached. And then you’ll not only know how many baby showers (for example) you’ve done, but also how much income it meant to your business. Add this sorting task to a to-do list and complete it for each event type every so often to really know what types of events you should be sure to boast in your marketing. ____ >>>> Want more on 17hats? Grab a free download that talks about 17 of my favorite features!

  • 3 types of customers to recognize

    And a few ideas for how exactly to do it. Of course we all appreciate every customer that supports our business and gives us a chance to help them with our knowledge, skills and talents. But there are a few types of customers that I’d say deserve special recognition: repeat customers, referring customers and those who leave a review. Read on to hear a few ideas for how exactly to recognize these customers! Repeat customers These people enjoyed your service or product enough to come back for more - that’s amazing! Are you able to pull up some details about the last time you worked with them so that you can continue to build that trust factor? If not, consider a CRM like 17hats that can store your emails and so many other details in nicely organized project folders. Disclaimer: Some of the links on my website are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. And are you setting yourself up to know whether you’re attracting repeat customers? Hopefully you’re able to remember a good portion of them, but depending on the number of jobs you complete in a month / year, maybe you simply can’t. I always love to suggest asking a question on your lead capture form such as “how did you hear about us”, and having “repeat customer” as one of the drop-down selections. Also see: Steps to track lead sources From there, maybe your CRM runs a workflow or creates a task that helps you recognize the fact that this person is a repeat customer. Perhaps it comes with a discount offer or a rewards system… whatever feels right for your business. Referring customers As strong as repeat customers are, referring customers are also such a huge benefit to your business. If someone feels strongly enough that you will handle their friends and family with care, they might refer them to your services or products and do your marketing for you. This is incredible! I’d like to suggest that you not only recognize the referring customer, but also the new (potential) customer for their trust in you and their contact. And here’s an example of how to use CRM features to make sure this happens: Add the option for “referral” to your drop-down question on your aforementioned lead capture form. Create a “Referral” workflow with two steps: one to immediately start your usual workflow, plus a task for you to thank the referring customer (in whatever way makes sense for your business). Start the Referral workflow if someone selects that option on the lead capture form, and this will effectively start both your Referral and usual workflow concurrently to make sure nothing gets missed. (Be sure to indicate that your usual workflow starts for all other choices in that drop-down question of your lead capture form.) As strong as repeat customers are, referring customers are also such a huge benefit to your business. Customers who leave a review When you get those 5-star reviews, take action. Thanking that customer both publicly (wherever they left their review) and with a personalized note could go such a long way… and might help to create a future repeat customer or referring customer, too. Consider using the language left in your review for your marketing… create or add to a reviews section on your website… create social posts… include the review in your next email marketing message. Celebrate it! And of course those 5-star reviews mean so much to every small business, but might I also suggest that we recognize those who leave reviews that are less-than? If you can find a way to take their feedback as constructive criticism, you can actually get a blueprint for what might need adjusting in your process, your communication, etc. Maybe you won’t be splashing these reviews all over social media, but a follow-up note that simply thanks them for their feedback is almost sure to be appreciated. And if done right, maybe these customers will still remain open to the idea of utilizing your service again. ____ If you’d like to learn more about the 17hats CRM and how it can help you recognize these types of customers, grab a free download to learn about 17 of my favorite features of the platform!

  • To quote or not to quote in 17hats?

    The advantages of using 17hats quotes in your business Using 17hats to run your business with lead capture forms, online scheduling, quotes, contracts, invoices and more can really streamline things for both you and your customers. And one of the most beneficial pieces in this streamlining toolkit is 17hats quotes. But what’s the difference between sending a quote and an invoice when you’ve reached the billing part of the process with your customers? There are a number of settings and capabilities that the two documents share, but a few key differences that almost always make a quote the better option include: Having a “standard” quote section, a “choose one” section and a “choose any” section Allowing customers to be able to choose a quantity of an item in the “choose any” section Being able to send a quote along with other documents (contract and/or invoice) Let’s examine these differences between 17hats quotes and invoices. Why would you use the "choose one" section in a 17hats quote? This section is great for allowing your customer to choose between things like: Delivery or pickup Installation and breakdown or installation only Different product/service package levels Different designs of the same product they’ve requested As noted by the name of the section, customers will only be able to choose one of the items listed here, so you’ll want to be careful that you’re giving your customers enough options that fulfill the needs of their request. Why would you use the "choose any" section? The “choose any” section is perfect for listing some complimentary upsells that your customer might also like to consider adding to their purchase.They can then choose any of those upsell items or choose none before accepting the quote. Adding “choose any” items can also eliminate some of the back and forth emails in order to get the invoice just right. You can just give your customer some final choices about what you offer on the quote when they’re already in payment mode. Another unique thing about this “chose any” section is that it’s the only place that can allow your customer to also select the number of units they’d like of any particular item. A great example of this type of item for decor businesses might be centerpieces, because they’re usually small enough and easy enough to put together for their order, even if you weren’t sure your customer would request them. And no, you are not required to add items to all of these sections - only one! But what happens if you just don’t have a need for your customers to be able to choose anything on your quotes? Should you just send an invoice instead? I’d still opt for no, because (as we’ll see in the next point), starting with a quote will also allow you to send other documents along with. And even if there are no choices to be made on the quote, your customer can still have the chance to accept the quote and confirm their interest in doing business with you. Need a step-by-step walkthrough of how to use all of your 17hats features? Grab this checklist. What if you don't use contracts in your business? Well, I’m not a legal expert and am definitely not giving any legal advice here, but I certainly think you should take the time to get yourself set up with a contract that protects you and your business. Even if you don’t go as far as a contract written up by a lawyer, you might even consider starting with a checklist of notes that you want your customer to be aware of and agree to. Whatever type of agreement language you come up with, you can include it between your quote and your invoice for your customer to complete with just a few clicks. And as a last resort, you are able to skip the contract / agreement entirely and still benefit from the features of a quote by including only the invoice along with the quote. In any case, whatever your customer selects on their quote will transfer onto their invoice and you can benefit from having both of those documents taken care of through one email. ____ So what do you think? Did this spark some ideas for what you could include in the options of your quotes? I hope so! And I’d love to help you use these features to your advantage. Check out my #stopthescatter Setup Service and Account Review Calls to see how we can work together on utilizing quotes (and all the powerful features) in 17hats!

  • Steps to track lead sources

    Figuring out where your leads are coming from is an important step in your marketing efforts because you want to figure out where your time, energy (and maybe even ad money) is best spent. In this article, I’m going to take you through 4 easy steps to track lead sources and what to do with that info. Rather listen? I talked about this process with my friend Sara on The Bright Balloon Podcast! Step 1: collect the info! Don't forget to ask your customers how they heard about you on your inquiry form. Whether you’re using a form from a CRM like 17hats, a form through your website, Google Forms, etc. I highly encourage you to be sure this question is on there. Disclaimer: Some of the links on my website are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. I’ll also suggest making this question type a drop-down selection, rather than a checkbox or text field, for a few reasons: If someone checks more than one box in a checkbox question, how do you know where they initially heard about you? Text can always be spelt wrong, abbreviated, etc. If customers can write in anything, it’ll be very hard to compile that data into useful info A drop-down form will give you much cleaner data! Now, what to include in this drop-down question, where you ask your customers how they heard about you! I would suggest the following options: repeat customer referral online search any of your active social profiles any local networking organizations you might participate in other. As a bonus tip, I’d also consider having a follow-up question immediately after this drop-down question, asking something like “If a referral or other, we’d love to hear the details!”. This should help you capture the individual names of the people spreading the good word about your business as well as any lead sources that you didn’t think to list. Just be careful not to list too many options in your drop-down... customers might not take the time to read through more than 10 options or so, and could end up just selecting something in order to move on to the next question of your form. Step 2: Compile the data After you’ve been tracking your lead sources for a while, export or download a list of your contacts to view the results in a spreadsheet. If you were previously using a checkbox or text field to ask this question, you may need to spend some time cleaning up your data to make sense of it. For example, cells that have been filled in with checkboxes may have commas between all lead sources that were checked. You might consider making each lead source in that cell its own entry by moving it to a separate row. Additionally, for cells previously filled in from a text field, make sure all cells containing an abbreviation or misspelling are updated to match the format of that lead source in your drop-down list. And if some referral names were written in, replace the name with “referral”... but of course be sure not to lose track of that name! In any case, grab this free download with a Google Sheets template that can help you summarize and clean up your data into an easy to understand pie chart! Step 3: Utilize the info What’s the pie chart telling you? Are you getting a lot of referrals you might consider sending thank you cards for? Is nobody finding you via search? Is it time to stop posting on a certain social platform? Let this data inform your marketing decisions. Take advantage of what’s working and give yourself permission to stop or slow down your marketing efforts where it’s not working. This said, I will always advocate for doing what you can to improve your presence in online search. If it’s not very strong, improve it by doing things like: Updating your service area on your Google Business Profile Adding a few products, services and more detailed information on Google Business Profile Adding keywords to the meta descriptions, titles and copy of your website pages You might also consider setting up an automation in Zapier to send your Instagram posts to your Google Business Profile to keep it fresh and updated. Anyway, back to the point of utilizing the info… this is a goldmine of data that your customers are giving you through this question, so it is definitely in your best interest to pay attention to where your customers are coming from! "This is a goldmine of data that your customers are giving you." Step 4: Repeat Now that you’ve taken the steps above to track your lead sources, I'd suggest checking in with this data every so often to stay on top of where your customers are coming from. Whether you’re manually downloading / exporting your contacts each time, or using a tool like Zapier to automatically and continually update your spreadsheet and chart, go ahead and set that reminder for yourself right now to check it each quarter, twice a year, monthly… whatever interval feels sustainable and helpful to you. Consistent check-ins will allow you to make small tweaks in your marketing plans throughout the year, rather than huge shifts to the way you work. And it all starts with a simple question!

  • Streamline & Manage Your Customer Experience

    As service providers, we’re always looking for ways to stand out to our prospective customers. And of course our talents for our work play a role in this, but so does the way we manage our customer experience with streamlined processes and great communication. Below are three ways that you can stand out from the competition, regardless of your experience and longevity in your industry. Rather listen? This is a conversation I had as a guest on The Bright Balloon Podcast! Tip #1 - Communicate quickly When a new lead reaches out to you, be sure you acknowledge their request as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean that you need to confirm your actual availability right away, but a simple message to confirm that you’ve received their request and they are on your radar will go a long way. Think about it… have you ever submitted a form without getting any kind of confirmation message or email? Kind of frustrating and confusing, right? Did it even go through? How long do you wait before you follow up? Do you even want to if this is how awkward and clunky the booking process is going to be? Don’t put your customers through that! Have some kind of automated message that comes up, or better yet, an email that goes out automatically and lets them know you will be getting back to them with more details soon. This is a common feature in any CRM or form builder, so check your settings now to ensure your customers are getting some type of automated message after they submit your inquiry form. Tip #2 - Answer their questions before they have them Speaking of that automated email, this is a great place to share with your customer the next steps in your booking process. If they’re ready to book you right away this will help make that happen ASAP! And if they aren’t exactly sure whether you’re the right service provider for them, having laid out what your process is will probably have them feeling confident in your ability to get their job done. If you can answer their questions before your customer has to ask them, you’ll increase your trust factor a ton, and shine as someone who is a true professional in what they do. For my fellow introverts, I recognize how pushy this might feel. But keep in mind that even your customer probably wants to get past the “messy middle” stage, between their inquiry with you and getting the project accomplished. And you know your process better than your customer, so lay it out for them and it should really help you manage your customer experience with impressive communication and organization. You know your process better than your customer. Tip #3 - Have a clear process It kind of goes without saying that you can’t communicate your process well if it’s not even clear to you! Take some time to map out how your ideal booking process would go. Is it all through email and forms? Or is there an in-person, phone or video consult involved? No matter what type of communication suits you best, also think about all of the details you need to know about their request. Plan out when and how you’ll ask for those details, keeping in mind the length of any forms and questionnaires you’re sending. You may need to spread out the number of questions asked in each. Finally, what is your payment policy? Do you require a deposit or full payment ahead of their date? These are key pieces to your process that you should be able to communicate with your potential customers so that they know what is needed from them, and when. Another reason that having a clear process will help you manage your customer experience is because you are less likely to mistakenly allow different processes for different customers. For example, say you are fortunate enough to receive a referral (yay!). For customer #1 you asked for full payment before their booking date. But for customer #2 you allow only a deposit be paid before their booking date, and the remainder due within a week after their booking date. This probably won’t feel fair to customer #1 if they knew, especially after they were the one to send a referral your way. Now this is not completely unavoidable, because processes do change, but if something like this happens simply because you’re not aware of your own process, it could really cause some sticky situations. Is there anything that you can do to better manage your customer experience? Maybe it’s writing down your process on a physical sheet of paper. Maybe it’s saving some email templates in your email service provider. Or maybe it’s creating customized workflows that guide both you and your customer through your process without missing a beat. If you’re serious about standing out by improving your customer experience, consider allowing a CRM (customer relationship management) tool like 17hats to support you in that. Set up an automated email, plus tons of other email templates, workflows and documents that support you through your journey with every client. You can learn about my 17 favorite features of the platform by jotting down your contact info below! Disclaimer: Some of the links on my website are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

  • 12 tips for sending email in 17hats

    Using 17hats as your customer relationship management tool can really help to organize and streamline your work with your customers. Instead of scrolling through your DMs to find that one detail they had requested, you can utilize the lead capture forms and questionnaires of 17hats to efficiently gather everything you need to know about your customers’ requests. And the emails you send back and forth with them will populate ever so nicely into their individual projects, meaning you’re only a few clicks away from finding the info you need at any time. So if you’re still piecing together the dozens of details all of your clients are looking for in the DMs, consider making it easier on yourself by utilizing 17hats! Disclaimer: Some of the links on my website are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Now about those emails… here is an overview of some tips for emailing in 17hats: 12 tips for sending email in 17hats Change your outgoing server Don’t BCC yourself Don’t enable read receipts Update templates on the fly Schedule send your emails Save a drafted email Creating the right email type Multiple email signatures Global email settings Emails on your dashboard Instruct your customers Email tokens Change your outgoing server to your email service provider. As is the case with most CRMs, your email service provider will likely have a stronger “reputation” on the receiving end of the email, making you more likely to land in your customers’ inbox and not spam folder. Don’t BCC yourself ... because this increases your chances of landing in spam. Instead, make a practice of checking your “sent” folder within your email service provider when you need to verify that something went out to a client. Don’t enable read receipts this also increases your chances of getting in spam. It’s not exactly the same, but you can actually use the Recent Client Activity section in the lower right of your dashboard to see when your customers have opened, viewed and completed your various documents. Update your email templates on the fly Maybe you’re sending a quick reminder for a pickup order the following day and giving instructions to your studio. Except, you’ve changed the front door from blue to yellow… type in that changed text, click “update this template” and you won’t have to do it again! Schedule send your emails This might be helpful just after you’ve completed a project. You like to personalize your “thank you” emails, so you don’t set them up to go out automatically. However, you also prefer to wait a couple of days after your work with them and don’t want to forget what was unique about their particular project. Write your “thank you” right after you’ve completed the project and schedule it to send at an interval when you feel like your customer would be ready to reflect on your work together and make time to give a review. Save a drafted email Somewhat similar to scheduling the send of your email… but perhaps a draft makes more sense when you’ve got nearly all of the information you need to send your customer but are waiting to confirm a couple of final details. Save it as a draft (which will then show up in your dashboard) and come back to it once you have all the info you need to share. Confirm you’re creating the right email type When you’re creating a new email template, be sure to set it up as the correct email type (quote email / auto-responder / etc.). This will allow you to pull in tokens specific to that type of email. For example, invoice emails will allow you to pull in tokens for invoice #, invoice amount, invoice due date, etc. and scheduling emails will allow you to pull in tokens for booking date, location name, service duration, etc. Another reason the type of email is important is because when you’re building your workflow and have a step to send an invoice, you will also need to select which email template is sent with the invoice. Only invoice emails will be available in your drop-down. You can create multiple email signatures I recommend having at least two different signatures: one for all of your regular emails and another for the emails that are sent with a document. I like to differentiate the two because your regular email signature can be a little more dressed up with your logo, social links, etc., but you may not want to include those things in your “document signature” because your customers might miss the button they need to access below your signature. Peek inside my 17hats for Balloon Businesses course to see what I mean! And watch another free preview here. Reminder and confirmation emails are global settings You can set up reminders and confirmations for each of the documents your customers may receive without needing to include them in your workflow. Documents include quotes, contracts, invoices and questionnaires. You also have total control over which documents get reminders and confirmations, and further control on the timing, number and frequency of the document reminders. View incoming emails on your dashboard This feature is a personal preference. Some like to manage their email strictly in their email service provider (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) and have those emails sync into their 17hats projects to keep them associated with their individual customers. But some like to bring any emails from their 17hats contacts straight onto their dashboard to help ensure the email doesn’t get missed. Something to know about this, though, is that when you address the email from your dashboard, it does not get archived or deleted in your email service provider. As in, it will remain in your inbox. Instruct your customers It never hurts to remind your customers to keep an eye out in their spam folder for your emails, just in case! You can display a note like that in the confirmation message after they’ve filled out your lead capture form (or created a booking). Even further, in the auto-reply that gets sent, you could gently remind them to add you to their address book if your email was found in spam. Use tokens where they make sense One of the best ways to personalize and upgrade your customer experience - tokens! I’ve mentioned already how different tokens are available to you according to the type of email template you’re creating. Sometimes it’s just those small bits of info in your messaging that lets your customer know you’ve got the right details in order for their project. Once you’re comfortable using the many default tokens available in the emails of 17hats, consider adding some custom tokens to really take your customer service to the next level! I’ve got a few tips specifically for custom tokens, too. So there you have it! 12 tips for sending and managing email in 17hats. I hope you found a few that will improve your deliverability and processes! If you’d like to work together on these settings and further optimize your account, learn more about the 1-hour coaching sessions I offer. Happy emailing, and happy client experiences!

  • Top 10 features of 17hats for balloon businesses

    One CRM that is growing in popularity across the balloon industry is 17hats, and I’ve had the pleasure of setting up dozens of systems for balloon business owners all around the United States. Whether you’re here to learn more about the platform before purchasing, or to learn more about how to optimize your current subscription, I’m so happy to share with you what I think are 10 of the best features of 17hats for balloon businesses: Here's a preview of what we'll cover: #1: 3-in-1 quote, contract & invoice #2: Quote options #3: Workflow from a product #4: Workflow from a drop-down #5: To-do lists #6: Custom fields #7: Zapier integration #8: If/then logic in questionnaires #9: Online scheduling availability #10 Automatically move a project to another calendar #1 Send a quote, contract & invoice together Hands down, my favorite feature. It streamlines things in your process so much! The 3-in-1 documents let your customers approve a quote (more on those later), sign a contract and pay an invoice all from one email. It can all happen in a matter of seconds, rather than days. And it doesn’t always have to include all three documents, either. However, any combination of documents does need to start with a quote, meaning you can send: all three documents a quote + contract a quote + invoice Access this by starting a new quote template and connecting (or creating) the corresponding contract template. Whatever they select in the quote will automatically get filled in the invoice! #2 Quote options You can create up to three different sections within your quotes: Using the standard quote items section, quote out exactly what your customers asked for Using the “choose one” section, let them choose from different options (such as free pickup or delivery) Using the “choose any” section, recommend and upsell some additional options that pair well with their standard items. They may choose some or none of what you include here. Ideas include: Vinyl personalization Greenery weaved throughout their balloon garland Takedown / striking services You can build your quote using any combination of these sections, or with only one type of section. And as we’ve already seen, if you send the quote along with an invoice, anything they select from these choices will transfer into their invoice! Rather listen? I talk about several of these features as a guest on The Bright Balloon Podcast! #3 Start a workflow from a certain product or service Now that we’ve seen how you can build your quotes in creative ways, let’s talk about another thing that can happen from a well-built quote… You also have the option of automatically starting a workflow for a particular item when the invoice is paid. This is especially helpful if you have products or services with special fulfillment processes. Let’s think back to the greenery weaved through balloon garlands… if your customer selects that in the “choose any” section and pays their invoice, you could have a workflow start that reminds you to fulfill this item. For example, this workflow might include two to-do items: Place greenery order for pickup one day before the base date Pick up greenery one day before the base date #4 Start a workflow from a drop-down list Similar to starting a workflow from a product or service, you can start a workflow specific to a drop-down selection your customers choose in your lead capture form. For example, maybe you have a different auto-reply email template and process for wedding clients than you do for birthday clients… or for repeat customers versus new customers. Make this workflow magic happen when you add questions to your lead capture form such as “what type of event are you celebrating” and “how did you hear about us” (being sure to create them as a drop-down selection). In that process, you’ll be able to direct certain answers to start your different workflows. #5 Stay on top of all your to-dos Certainly your balloon decor workflows have to-dos, etc. that lead you through your projects. But there are also plenty of other recurring to-dos for your balloon business, such as: Ordering inventory Taking inventory Paying quarterly taxes Checking on the wear and tear of your frames Updating your website for prices, new products, etc… the list goes on! To keep up with these tasks, you can create to-do lists, such as “inventory to-dos”, “financial to-dos” and “marketing to-dos”, for example. Add one-off items, or (more likely) recurring items here. #6 Custom fields Custom fields for your contacts or projects will become tokens that can really add a nice personal touch to your emails and documents. Now, it’s easy to get carried away with these custom fields (I’ve been guilty myself!), so I’d recommend taking these steps before creating any new custom fields: Know the default fields that already exist Ask yourself whether this custom field will add really useful personalization Ask yourself whether this custom field will save you any copy/pasting throughout your process A few great custom fields for balloon businesses are: Setup time (a great token for email reminders/confirmations & in your quote) Colors/theme (in the description of your various decor products) Personalization (if you have this add-on, use this token in the line item description for your quote) Custom project fields will also populate nicely along the right side of your screen while viewing your project. To get started with custom fields, head to Account Settings > Custom Fields (under Account Templates). #7 Connecting to Zapier Zapier is another awesome tool for streamlining your business. It connects many common business platforms together with automation. Its integration with 17hats will copy new contacts to and from other sources automatically. Helpful uses include: Sending new 17hats contacts to a Google Sheet Sending new 17hats contacts to your email service provider Creating new 17hats contacts based on entries from another web form you have This will mean you no longer have to manually copy and paste your new contacts back and forth across all your tech! #8 Questionnaire options & if/then logic Questionnaires have slowly become my favorite type of document within 17hats! They’re similar to lead capture forms in the way they collect information from your customers (and map that info to your tokens), but they offer even more capability. Questionnaires can also allow for file uploads, inputting related contacts, displaying images and asking follow-up questions depending on the answers you get in previous questions. Good uses for those features would be things like: asking your customers for inspiration pictures / pictures of their space if they indicated that their delivery address is different than their billing address, have follow-up questions for that additional address #9 Multiple online scheduling availabilities Having different sets of availability in your online scheduling setup is nice for things like Grab & Go Garlands and decor consultation phone calls. This can really help you organize and plan your days. Say, for example, you only offer your Grab & Go Garland pickups on Thursday and Friday afternoons. That would be a separate availability schedule from your decor consultation availability which might be from 9am-11am every weekday (for example). Then there are many other options regarding the timing and approval process for these online bookings, too. #10 Automatically move a project to another calendar If you appreciate a color-coded calendar as much as me, this one is great! It will allow you to know at a glance what your project schedule is like on any given day. It starts by sending new contacts to your “inquired clients” calendar (or some other name like “pending” or “potential”). This is done in the settings of your lead capture form or online scheduling. Then, as you can see how in the image above, this workflow prompts me to send a quote, and once it's paid, an email is automatically sent… and after both of those things are done, clients automatically move to my "booked clients" calendar. (This is actually a sneak peek inside my course, 17hats for Balloon Businesses!) Now, when someone else asks for my availability on that same day I will quickly know that I’m already booked and will need to find another time to work with the new customer. Final notes: The availability of these features will depend on your subscription level. But I whole-heartedly recommend their premier package if you’re serious about streamlining your balloon business with 17hats. Two major reasons are: way more workflow capabilities being able to take payments through online scheduling Wanna learn more? Surprise! I’ve actually got seven more of my favorite features of 17hats included in this free download. If you find that you’re ready to give the platform a try, feel free to grab my referral link to get up to 50% off your annual subscription!

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