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Hey everybody, this is Gene Marks and welcome to The Hartford’s Small Biz Ahead podcast. Thanks for joining me this week. As your costs have increased, you are probably finding like many small businesses around the country that you’re being forced to raise prices on the products and services that you sell. But increasing prices isn’t the only way that you can navigate your way through these inflationary times. Many businesses that I talk too…many of my clients, they’re turning to technology to help them control their costs and minimize overhead and increase productivity. So for this week’s episode, let me share with you just some techs that are out there right now that people are using, small businesses are using to minimize their overhead and be more productive and profitable. One client that I interviewed really doubles down on their ERP system, their financial system. They use a product called Epicor, but you might be using QuickBooks or Xero or any number of financial applications that are out there. You know what? Have you really leveraged the data that’s in your system?
Are you really providing it, on a timely basis to make sure that you’re really, looking out for your costs? My client’s company, he’s been dealing with a significant amount of volatility in his business and he’s been leading heavily on his financial system to keep track of both his costs and his pricing. He’s demanded more metrics out of his system. He’s become to push initiatives to further automate his warehouse and get data that way. They’re using dashboards, they’re doing some development on their applications. They’re also implementing document management and scanning for like different types of reports that they’re getting in and certifications, they need to administer. Also they’re using automated expense reporting and workflows to eliminate some of the more menial data entry tasks they’re doing as well.
All of these things are leveraging their financial system to really get and take advantage of the data that’s in their system. I have another client that’s using their CRM system, their customer relationship management system to really leverage, their data to stay ahead of the slowing economy and maximize their sales. All of their customers get follow up emails to make sure they’re happy with the products that they bought, their CRM system that they’re using. And by the way, they’re using something called SugarCRM. There are plenty of great CRMs out there, like Insightly and Nimble and Zoho, and of course Salesforce. But their CRM system, they’ve configured it to send automatic messages every three and six months to their community to make sure that they are staying in touch with them and doing what they need to build a relationship. And also remind them when maybe more products need to be purchased or contractors coming near to its end or things like that. That client tells me that using their CRM system gives…
Them a chance to make sure they’re giving good service and it also makes them aware if there’s anything potentially wrong going on or if they’re downsizing or they’re moving or they’re unhappy. All of these communications really help. Another client of mine doubles down on her project management system. She used a product called Asana, but there are other good project managers out there like Basecamp and Trello, for example. Her projects involve a lot of different moving parts, so with a lot of tasks that need to be done. So all of these things go into her projects and then this way, they can coordinate it better and her and her team can share information better on their projects and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
They’re getting alerted whenever anything needs to get done. And there’s workflow built into their project management system to make sure that people know when they’ve gotta be able to meeting their tasks, making a phone call, sending an email, following up on things that need to be done. She also shares a lot of the project information, not only with her team but sometimes with customers and with her board of directors. So they’re in the know of where their projects stand. She says her project management platform has like minimized her downtime, automatically assigned responsibilities based on the work that needs to be done with deadlines and reminders. All of this has been done to avoid conflicts. Another client of mine, are using a number of different products to get ahead.
He runs a service firm. So, he is a project management system as well, but he also manages his expenses and credit card purchases on a product called Ramp. He uses a CRM called HubSpot. He uses a mailing service called Mailchimp, and obviously he doubles down on QuickBooks for his accountants and for his accounting, but he also uses a product called Harvest to do his time in billing and Basecamp for his project management has assumed to Asana that I mentioned before. All of these different products are being used. One of the things he’s gonna do next year is to try and integrate more of them together to improve productivity and efficiency. A growing realization among a lot of my clients that they should be relying on other technology companies to host their applications. When they do that, they can save more money. I know a lot of clients that have moved their way to manage services providers to host their accounting systems and their other software, as well as their databases and their files. A managed service provider, a good example is right networks. A managed service provider like them, they allow their customers to get access to their data wherever they are. And whenever they want. It ensures that the information is backed up and secured for sure.
Also it’s important that these cloud based management services providers, they save their company’s money because if you outsource all of this stuff to a managed service provider, you don’t have to spend money on hardware or pay for internal IT people. So it gives you a lot more control over your monthly costs. So listen, you’re a small business owner. You’re trying to minimize what your monthly spend is and what your capital expenditures are. It’s a slowing economy. It’s, you’re trying to cut overhead. Having a managed service provider makes sense. So here’s the recap, okay. Technology is really, really important for your business. I am seeing it across the board at my clients. They are leaning heavily on technology so they can take advantage. They can minimize their overhead and maximize their productivity.
So, like I said, double down on your accounting system. Invest in a good customer relationship management system. Have a good project management system as well. Use all the smaller techs out there for expense management, for mass mailings, for time and billing. Those are all good applications that can help you do things that much quicker and better. And finally, and I think most importantly, get rid of all the stuff that you’re hosting in house. Even if you have an older architecture application, have somebody else host it for you. Use a managed service provider to do this work for you so that you can minimize your hardware and your IT spend and have a fixed sort of monthly budget of what you’ll be paying to for all of your technology. These managed service providers are extremely secure and they’ll give you access to you and your team whenever you want.
All right, those are some of the techs. That’s what people are doing right now to minimize their costs and make their way through this slower economy. And particularly an economy with higher inflation. My name is Gene Marks. You’ve been listening to The Hartford, Small Biz Ahead podcast. I hope you found this information helpful. If you’d like more tips or advice for running your business, please visit us at SmallBizAhead.com or SBA.hartford.com. Again, my name is Gene Marks. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back to you next week with another tip to help you manage your business better. Talk to you then.
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