The goal for this year was to increase office productivity for my balloon entertainment business and reduce the amount of paper documents produced. Now, this is no simple task. I had to save all the customers information, contracts, notes, and marketing material for each client along with communications between my clients and me. So how can I achieve this?
I considered using a product called PaperPort, which allows me to scan and convert documents into image managing software. Nevertheless, scanning in hundreds of documents did not seem like a productive solution.
My next thought, was to save the contracts as PDF files. Figuring I could save the PDF files to CD at the end of the year. I started doing this in early 2007 for some clients, but only clients that I emailed a contract too. This was only a handful, because most customers did not provide email information.
Now, in 2009, everyone has email and everyone checks it on a daily basis. I modified my registration form to allow space on the form for an email address. Sure enough, getting everyone’s email address has been as simple as asking for it. This in the end will reduce mailing cost, increase delivery of the contract, along with reducing printing material and cost. Not only have I become more efficient, I am being environmentally friendly.
I use Microsoft Word to generate contracts and service agreement, store information in my Palm Pilot and save contracts in a PDF files. However, I was missing my notes I typically write on my show form. Now, my show book is still a hand written copy, but if I can store those too, I would be able to discard them at the end of the year. Thus reducing more and freeing up office space.
I decided to look for CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software that would handle my requirements. I thought back to my computer years and remember a software called ACT. This was a full CRM that many major 500 corporations used to maintain customer support and contact information. After reading reviews on the Internet, I relized that this was the software for me. The ACT software allows all the data to be stored, organized, and takes advantage of Outlook and Word software.
Well it has been about nine months now and I have ACT running smoothly. I have the entire customer’s demographic data being stored and customer data is mail merged into the contracts allowing data integrity, while saving notes about the customers event. It was an investment in money, time and practice, but I learned to operate the software. It has solved my paper problem and improved my efficiency, which is helping me improve my balloon entertainment business.
Many entertainers find that entertaining is the fun part and the paperwork- well let us say it not so fun. I have been able to reduce the not so fun stuff, which frees me up to do more fun stuff.
If you have a comment on my post, feel free to leave me your thoughts and ideas.
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