It is like a black hole opens in front of the business owner who asks this question.  It always surprises me when otherwise strategic-thinking small business owners just blank out.  Not having an answer for this actually stops them from deciding to automate.

The black hole opens up because all of their thoughts about automating the business have been about reducing manual work negatives that impact cash flow.  There has not been much thought about the work staff members do that is not done with their hands – their problem-solving, communication, and team work skills.   So, how will staff fill their time after automation reduces errors, reduces staff time spent on boring repetitious tasks, and stops things falling between the cracks?

The answer lies in the “Someday Wish List.” You know – that list of things every business owner wants to do but can’t prioritize right now.  How often has somebody in the office said, “It would be great to do that, but nobody has time?” Automation allows “Someday” to become “Today”.  All of those “someday” things are what the staff will fill their time with when automation takes over the paperwork.  A couple of examples:

  • Keeping in touch with existing customer is on almost every business wish list.  What if a satisfaction survey was sent to every buyer 15 days after purchase?  Staff could immediately contact any buyer who was not happy and resolve any issues because that’s what their job now.
  • Automation can provide happy buyers a way to provide testimonials and referrals.  Staff could follow up with the referrals to increase sales and make good use of the testimonials for the business website and print materials.
  • Automation can help screen through the best prospects so staff spend more phone and face time with them and the conversion rate improves.
  • When nothing slips through the cracks anymore the natural result is more things staying around and needing to be attended to – by staff members.
  • It is so important to deal with problems when they first appear.  Staff can exercise their problem-solving skills and even anticipate problems if they are not drowning in paperwork.
  • Automation reduces errors and bottlenecks in the order and fulfillment process and even manages invoicing and collections so staff members no longer have to dread monthly closings. This time savings is often not spent on the business though because staff members spend it with their families instead of working overtime.  Nothing wrong with that.

Everything that grows a small business improves when staff members do less boring, repetitive, head-down task work and use their other skills more with prospects, customers, and each other.

The business owner knows opportunities have been lost because no one had time to take them on. How will staff fill their time after the manual work they do is automated?  By taking that wish list and growing the business – that’s how.