We live in a fast-paced society, where our colleagues, clients, and vendors are always on the go. To manage a small business and ensure you don’t miss out on important opportunities, you need to have the right communication tools in place.
Here are five surefire ways to ensure the right information is getting to the right people in your small business.
Have a Centralized Phone System
If you run a small business with multiple points of contact, it doesn’t make much sense to have a list of phone numbers for someone to try calling. In fact, it looks unprofessional. Having a centralized phone number– particularly one that is toll-free– will streamline telephone communications for suppliers and potential customers.
UniTel Voice is a virtual phone system for small business owners that lets you take customer calls on any phone (home, office, or cell). Not only will the program allow you to run a virtual switchboard that ensures the right connections are being made, but it will also help you screen calls when a colleague is busy.
Forego Email for Instant Messaging
Nothing is more frustrating than a million emails back and forth in a group of people, which may or may not apply to you. They not only fill up your inbox, but the constant pop-ups can be distracting and scanning to find out if they’re relevant is time-consuming. Research conducted by Carleton University showed that people spend upwards of 11.7 hours per week processing emails at work and another 5.3 hours at home.
Using an instant messaging program, like Slack, will allow your people to mute channels while working, to be interrupted only when they’re tagged into a conversation. You can still share documents and images but have the option to ignore anything that isn’t pertinent. Save the inbox for reports.
Stand Up Sit Down Meetings
The last thing anyone wants to incorporate into their day is another meeting, but what about having a brief morning session before the day gets going? Team members can sip their coffee and give a few bullet points on what they accomplished the previous day and their goals for the day. This keeps everyone abreast of the goings on in different projects.
This collaborative session is beneficial for small teams who often work separately on various projects. It also puts everyone in the same room for a brief amount of time, reducing the email chains further.
Set Business Hours
One of the hardest things to do as a small business owner is set business hours and manage expectations. Set hard limits on when you will clock out for the day, and unplug when the time comes. Manage your time effectively and schedule blocks each day to read and respond to emails.
As our society has developed into a culture that expects instant gratification, let your clients know about your policy. Most clients will appreciate your professionalism and find comfort in the fact that you spend your time working rather than emailing. Plus, if there is an emergency or they have a time-sensitive question, they can always call your convenience centralized phone system.
Use Project Management Software
Use a cloud-based project management system to ensure everyone is up-to-date on tasks and developments. By having projects updated on the cloud, it reduces the need for one person working extra to keep everything flowing in a separate software system. It also cuts back on the email chains and makes it nearly impossible to have a miscommunication or overlook a step.
Most project management software operates like a virtual post-it note board, on which you can move things around and add notes, due dates, and questions as needed.
Communication is the most common struggle for small businesses. By taking these simple steps, you can overcome communication challenges with ease.