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 customer’s information, contacts, 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 PaperPort product, 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 keep 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 to. This was only a handful because most customers did not provide email information.
Now, in 2009, everyone has email, and everyone checks it daily. 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. In the end, This will reduce mailing costs, increase delivery of the contract, and reduce printing material and cost. Not only have I become more efficient, but I am also environmentally friendly.
I use Microsoft Word to generate contracts and service agreements, store information in my Palm Pilot, and save contracts in a PDF file. However, I was missing the notes I typically write on my show form. Now, my show book is still a handwritten copy, but if I can store those too, I would 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 remembered a software called ACT. This was a complete CRM that many major 500 corporations used to maintain customer support and contact information. After reading reviews on the Internet, I realized that this was the software for me. The ACT software allows all the data to be stored and 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 customer’s event. It was an investment in money, time, and practice, but I learned to operate the software. It has solved my paper problem, improved my efficiency, and helped me improve my balloon entertainment business.
Many entertainers find that entertaining is the fun part and the paperwork- well, let us say it is not so fun. I have reduced the not-so-fun stuff, which frees me up to do more fun stuff.
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