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12 Things You can Automate in Your Business to Save You Time

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If I had a dollar for every time that I felt that there weren’t enough hours in the day….
Or a dollar for every time night that I went to bed with my poor to do list still unfinished….
Or a dollar for every time that I felt overwhelmed with things to do – boring things…

Tell me you feel the same!

As an entrepreneur it is so easy (especially if you are a team of one) to spend hours doing things that you don’t want to be doing, and specifically things that don’t make you money.

You can’t get more hours in the day – that’s just impossible. But thanks to modern technology you can clear your to do list by automating many of your tasks.

Business automation is especially valuable to entrepreneurs, because your greatest constraint is often on your time. You’re likely running your startup with a on a shoe string budget and trying to cut corners because you have limited resources…but you need the results and growth of an established company to establish and maintain your credibility and productivity.

The main benefits of automation are:

  • Increased productivity.
  • Improved quality and less margin for error
  • Improved robustness (consistency), of processes or product
  • Increased consistency of output
  • Reduced direct human labor costs and expenses
  • Improved SANITY

So here are some of my favorite tasks to automate. If you have any questions or suggestions drop them in the comments below!

Social Media Posting

One important aspect of marketing for small businesses is social media management. Small businesses must be able to track engagement and develop their reach through various social media networks. Creating content for your social accounts may be easy, but posting your content at peak traffic times for all of your networks maybe difficult, especially if you have target markets in various countries.

Let’s say the peak time to get the most traffic in one particular region happens to be at 2am your time. No one wants to have to wake up at 2am just to click “send” on a post, right? When you automate social media management, you can connect your Facebook profiles and pages, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and even LinkedIn and schedule when and where each post should be sent. The program will automatically queue your updates and post them at peak hours, therefore boosting your online presence and freeing you up to focus on other things.

Tools: Later, Hootsuite, Zoho Social, Buffer

In our business we use: Later

Managing Your Inbox

Email can be one of the most time consuming tasks on an office worker’s daily to-do list. When it comes to sorting emails, you can set up labeled folders for different types of emails, like newsletters and communications with clients. You can even enable Smart Labels within Gmail, so that the platform will automatically sort some of your emails, like promotions and social notifications, into separate folders.

When it comes to responding to emails, there are likely some responses that are going to be the same or at least similar. Set up canned responses in Gmail or email templates in Outlook instead of re-typing those messages over and over again.

Tools: GSuite
In our business we use: GSuite

Email Management

While it’s widely acknowledged that email marketing can boast a 3,800% ROI, “automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than ‘business as usual’ marketing messages.”

Email marketing is one major strategy that small businesses can use to reach out to their clients and partners. Businesses can use emails to share about deals they’re offering, changes in the policies or procedures of the company, and much more.

Once you have drafted the email, you can use an email management program to send the email to specific groups of people, schedule the day and time you would like the email to be sent out, and you can use attractive templates to catch people’s attention. This helps in building credibility, improving communication, and boosting sales.

Tools: ConvertKit, Constant Contact, Vero, Drip, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign

In our business we use: ConvertKit

Email Signatures

Every email client (whether desktop or web based) offers users the ability to create customized signatures. It may not seem like typing your name takes up too much time in your day, but having this information entered into your messages automatically can be a godsend (especially if you’re prone to typos!).

Reporting

Every business has to deal with reporting. Whether you’re concerned with sales, inventory or leads, creating a form template – or even a form that auto-fills fields from another software program—can be a huge time saver, whether you’re dealing with accounting software, Excel spreadsheets or mailing lists. Depending on the program you’re currently using, the automation process will be slightly different, but taking the time to learn how to use your technology effectively will definitely pay off.

Keeping in Touch with Customers and Clients

Email is a wonderful data collection and customer retention tool, but unless you automate your system, chances are your customer relations are going to fall by the wayside. Instead of reminding yourself to write email follow ups all the time, use an autoresponder service like Constant Contact to frontload any email communications you have and schedule them to deliver automatically.

Best of all, many of these services are so specific that you can customize lists within lists. For instance, if you wanted to send out a happy birthday notice to everyone on your sales list that has a birthday in the coming month, you can do that, using the power of list filtering and autoresponder management.

Scheduling Meetings

When scheduling meetings with many people, finding a time good for everyone’s schedules can be a daunting task. Instead of going back and forth in a long email chain, set up a scheduling app to simplify the process.

Tools: Calendly, Acuity Scheduling

In our business we use: Calendly & Acuity

Chatbots

Good customer service is vital to the success of a small business. As much as you may want to be available to your customers 24/7, this is not always possible. This is where chatbots can provide a great support. If a customer visits your website after work hours with a question, the pre-programmed chatbot will respond automatically to the customer and help them arrive at a solution.

This will help improve sales and marketing, since people will be able to see how responsive your business is to their inquiries and needs. Small business owners, through these chatbots, will be able to respond quickly to the queries of their customers and will have more potential to captivate their loyalty and interest.

Alternatives: ChattyPeople, Telegram Bots, Chatfuel

Time Management

When it comes to time management in small businesses, there are tools such as Time Doctor, that can keep track of the progress of your employees. No business is perfect. Owners and employees alike may get distracted and derailed from accomplishing tasks on time. Truth be told, mastery of productivity is quite complicated to achieve, when you consider all of the factors that affect how we spend our time in the workplace.

Using tools like this can be helpful in guiding you to fully maximize your time. Not only that, but keeping track of your employees’ timesheets will be easier than manually writing down the time they logged in and logged out. Moreover, this encourages your staff to treat time as gold without making them feel like they’re being micromanaged.

Tools: Toggl, Timestation, Time Doctor

Paying Bills

Instead of spending your limited time paying bills each month, use a service like Bill.com to manage all of your payments. The service works with any bank and even integrates with Xero and Quickbooks. You won’t have to go cut checks or manually enter them into your accounting system. You can manage all of those payments online in one place. Bill.com claims that it can cut users’ bill-paying time in half. Or, just check directly with your bank. Many now offer bill payment services, sometimes at no extra charge.

Delegating Customer Support Issues

Handling customer communications via email can become a nightmare as your business and the volume grows. Instead of letting one employee’s inbox get buried in messages, while other members of your team are in the dark, employ a ticketing system or online help desk like ZenDesk, Zoho, Groove or FreshDesk.

Help desk solutions provide a central place to access customer issues and communicate. Set up a contact form on your website, and route communications by type to central inboxes, where assigned individuals on your team can answer them. These solutions also help you create a knowledge base of commonly asked questions. This becomes a self-serve portal for customers, eliminating the need to answer many questions individually.

Tools: ZenDesk, Zoho, Groove or FreshDesk

Filling Out Online Forms

This is a personal productivity enhancer. Inputting your name, company, address, and contact information time after time in online forms can be tiresome. A software program like Roboform stores your data so you don’t have to manually enter it each time you come across one of those pesky online forms. Or simply use the similar functionality built into browsers such as the Chrome.

In the meantime be sure to share this article with anyone that you know that owns a travel business and subscribe to get tips like this delivered straight to your inbox each week!

NB: Any hyperlinks lead to sites for which I am a proud user and affiliate. Feel free to reach out to us with questions as we use those particular services in our own business.

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Charisse

Charisse has a wealth of administrative knowledge and experience. She’s from North Carolina, and has a really calm demeanor yet is eager when it comes to her work.

What I do

Learning the ends and outs of the web design process, responding to questions and concerns from clients.

On my travel bucket list

Johannesburg, North Holland, Alaska

My fave food

Tex-Mex

My favorite people in my life

My mom, my sisters, my cousins, and my friends from H.S/College.

Amanda B

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, listening to music, and playing video games. She lives in suburban Chicago where she has lived all her life.

What I do

I write blog posts and create destination guides.

On my travel bucket list

Ireland, Australia, Italy, a Caribbean cruise

My fave food

Spicy chicken, grilled steak and potatoes, pepperoni and sausage pizza

My favorite people in my life

My husband, twin daughters, and my awesome group of friends

Jenn G

She specializes in blogs and articles about family and home but has a passion for travel.

When she’s not working, she enjoys time with her husband, three (adult) children, and five pets. She and her family live in a beautiful area in Maine with no shortage of things to do!

What I do

Freelance writer

On my travel bucket list

Hawaii, Italy, and Australia

My fave food

Cheeseburgers and fried chicken (not healthy, but I don’t care – yum!)

My favorite people in my life

My husband and children

Matthew D

While his degree may be in journalism, he spends most of his time focusing on blogs and social
media writing for clients in various industries. When not writing, Matthew also spends a large chunk of his time working in education. He divides his time between working in the classroom and helping to run before and after school childcare programs. In his free time, he can be found reading, crafting, and keeping up with all things pop culture (just not the Kardashians).

What I do

Content Writer

On my travel bucket list

Cyprus, Prague (Again), Argentina, Australia

My fave food

Vegetable Lasagna, Any kind of soup,  Hummus, Chex Mix

My favorite people in my life

My parents, but specifically my favorite travel companion, my mother.

Jonnelle Davis

In the meantime, as a travel content editor, Jonnelle helps to deliver clean and engaging content to our travel agents.

She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family, and she savors opportunities to have new experiences, big and small.

What I do

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On my travel bucket list

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My fave food

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My favorite people in my life

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Anthony McLemore

Not only does Anthony co-host some of the video related Power Sessions with Sandra, but he also created an incredible course for travel bussinesses showing them how to use video to increase their sales.

If you’re lucky you’ll also catch him at a travel conference on stage or in our booth.

What I do

I direct and produce video content for travel suppliers such as cruise lines, hotel chains, associations, consortia, host agencies, and tour operators. My expertise is in interviewing and storytelling and the content that I produce is an excellent investment for suppliers as they can use it for many years to come. I travel with a film crew to the suppliers and we also travel to destinations to capture photos and videos to build supplier media libraries.

On my travel bucket list

Snowboarding in the Swiss Alps, exploring the South Pacific islands where my wife’s family is from, a safari with my son and wife in South Africa, and a first-class train adventure somewhere exotic.

My fave food

Japanese, Thai, Italian, Greek

My favorite people in my life

Not surprisingly…. Sandra and Houston! I also have amazing parents, family, and friends in every corner of the globe that I am grateful for.

Dana B

When she’s not making beautiful websites, Dana enjoys spending time with her husband and young daughter. She’s always looking to plan their next road trip or outdoor adventure, and can’t help but be expired but the amazing destinations she learns about through her work every day.

What I do

I help bring the client’s business to life by crafting stunning websites and marketing pieces to showcase their unique travel services.

On my travel bucket list

My travel bucket list right now is focused more on domestic destinations. I want to see more of our beautiful country–the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, the New England coast, the Florida Keys, and Hawaii just to name a few!

My fave food

I love all different kinds of foods but right now I’m really digging Mediterranean flavors. Give me all the garlic and all the spices!

My favorite people in my life

My favorite people in my life are of course my husband and daughter, my parents and siblings, and my dog Lucy!

Jenny M

While on faraway trips from Charlotte, her guilty pleasures are relaxing at the beach, occasional visits to Austin, TX, and any cocktail with Malibu Coconut Rum. She enjoys the local scenery and laid-back bar scenes.

What I do

I am the Design Lead and also one of Travel Marketing and Media’s designers. I help manage the design team and jump in when needed. When I’m not helping out my team members, I design websites and graphics for some of our clients.

On my travel bucket list

Hawaii, Dubai, Australia, United Kingdom, Maldives

My fave food

Korean BBQ – Thinly sliced fatty beef brisket with white rice. Chimichanga filled with ground beef and rice and beans.Breakfast food – Steak & Eggs, grits, and hashbrowns. Lamb chops. Sweet and Sour Chicken. Bun Thit Nuong (Grilled pork with vermicelli rice noodles)

My favorite people in my life

The loves of my life: my significant other, immediate family, and last but not least, my son.

Emily B

As a North Carolina native, Emily spent most of her summers on the coast so her love for the sea and adventure developed at an early age. Since moving to New York, Emily has built a career around travel and looks forward to exploring more of Southeast Asia and South America in the future.

What I do

Freelance writer for social media, websites, destinations, and blogs. 

On my travel bucket list

Vietnam, Australia, and Costa Rica!

My fave food

Anything Italian and a really good cheeseburger!

My favorite people in my life

Family and my friends/travel buddies!

Lana

Lana is known for her detail-oriented nature and her desire to learn. She is multilingual, enjoys yoga, new experiences, and loves travel!

What I do

I make sure our clients get answers to their questions and get to the right courses at the right time

On my travel bucket list

All around Seattle, Vancouver, and Anchorage

My fave food

Anything-raw vegan with a steaming hot mug of pure cacao

My favorite people in my life

My mom

Jeanna Akins

She has spent over a decade in the Administrative world and has a knack for order and direction. She is our go-to for a wide array of services. If she doesn’t have the answer she’ll find it or get you to the team member that does!

Jeanna enjoys time with her family (which includes a 12 year old Yorkie), being out doors and bringing old objects back to life. She also has a passion for volunteering in her community.

What I do

I proudly provide services as Travel Marketing and Media’s business manager. Leading our concierge’s, creative team, and content production for Social Media Solutions as well as work with VIP clients and organize events for Sandra.

On my travel bucket list

Germany,  Iceland and Norway.

My fave food

Mexican and Italian food.

My favorite people in my life

My Family and friends for sure, life just wouldn’t be as great without them and a special shout out to my husband who puts up with me!

Keshaunda Lewis

Keshaunda loves to travel and spent several years working onboard the world’s biggest cruise line. Now, instead of keeping a Cruise Director in line, she spends her days helping travel advisors to pull together content for their incredible websites and branding.

Keshaunda also manages our design team. She loves her family and friends and a great family vacation!

What I do

Operations manager

On my travel bucket list

Africa

My fave food

Lasagna

My favorite people in my life

Family

Sandra McLemore

Sandra created Travel Marketing & Media, a marketing agency for travel business owners who want to create a consistent stream of new clients so that they can have a wildly profitable travel business that brings them joy.

She speaks regularly at travel industry events around the world and in 2021 will launch her new travel magazine & travel accessories collection.

Sandra is also the host of Travel Market Report TV, the travel industry’s leading trade publisher, and the travel expert featured on Daily Mail TV, CNN, BBC World News, ABC, morning TV shows, and talk shows.

What I do

I create and teach our signature online course, our masterclasses, workshops and host the Travel Marketing Townhall meetings. I also provide webinars and keynotes for host agencies, consortia and large travel industry events.

On my travel bucket list

South Korea, South Africa, a river cruise, Sri Lanka, a world cruise!

My fave food

Vietnamese, Thai, Italian, Japanese.

My favorite people in my life

My husband Anthony, our baby Houston, my Goddaughter Nomi, and all of our amazing friends and family. We have an amazing village. And of course I’ll always love Oprah, Amy Porterfield and Donald Miller.