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Automation for small businesses

How you can do more with fewer people

By Ellie Huizenga · March 21, 2022
Two orange people icons on a light orange background with a dotted line behind it.

If you run a small business, you're likely tackling a huge amount of tasks with a lean team. Not only does it get overwhelming, but essential things like lead follow-up or meeting reminders may fall by the wayside. 

Automation can streamline processes across all departments, making you more efficient and organized. That efficiency means you can scale your small business faster and boost your return on investment (ROI).

Here are five ways automation can help you scale your business.

Table of contents

  • Boost lead management

  • Provide seamless customer service

  • Make scheduling and meetings easier

  • Level up team collaboration

  • Streamline accounting processes

Boost lead management 

The faster you generate leads, the more deals you can close. But when things move too quickly, it's hard to reach out to leads while they're hot—causing you to miss a valuable sale. To turn leads into customers, you need to send the right message at the right time. 

Make sure customers get fast replies

Whether it's a quick message after a form submission or a speedy thank you after a payment, it's critical that you send personalized, timely messages. With Zapier, you can send automated messages without adding more tasks to your to-do list.

To get started with a Zap template—what we call our pre-made workflows—just click on the button, and we'll guide you through customizing it. It only takes a few minutes. You can read more about setting up Zaps here.

Send an email when a new lead comes in

Send an email when a new lead comes in
  • Facebook Lead Ads logo
  • Gmail logo
Facebook Lead Ads + Gmail

Want to learn more about how you can automate your email marketing? Read 4 ways to automate your email marketing for better communication. 

Route new leads to the right place

Keep track of your leads by making sure they get added to your customer relationship manager (CRM) or email marketing tool—no copy or paste needed. With automation, you can also automatically tag prospects and make sure they're added to the right email campaigns. That way, every lead gets sent to the right place, right away. 

Provide seamless customer service 

If you're working with a small team, you may not have separate departments handling essential customer interactions. Instead, you might manually pass customer support requests (or unsigned contracts) to whichever team member has a few minutes to spare.

Unfortunately, these processes can lead to missed messages or lost documents. Instead of manually passing off tasks, use automation to streamline these operational processes. 

Get notified about signed contracts

When your customer signs a contract, it's critical to get back to them ASAP. But signed documents can get lost in emails, apps, and other messages. To help you stay on top of it all, send notifications about signed contracts to the place where you—or the right team member—will actually see them (in your to-do list, CRM, or communication app). That way, you can send prompt responses to your customers. 

Keep up with your customer support requests

Good customer support turns leads into customers—and then into repeat customers. But keeping up with support tickets (on top of everything else) is easier said than done. 

You can use automation to immediately notify your support team about a new ticket in your favorite communication tool. Then they can see the ticket immediately and respond right away. 

You can also set up Zaps that add new requests to your to-do list, so every ticket gets accounted for—even on a busy day. 

Want to get more customer service automation tips? Discover 5 ways your clients benefit from support and service automation

Simplify your client onboarding process

Hooray! You just secured a new client. But now you have to go through the administration process of onboarding them. From creating customer profiles to sending client intake forms, the work can be exhausting. 

Let automation take on the laborious tasks. Instead of manually sending welcome packets, create a Zap that does it for you—saving you valuable time. 

Want more tips on how to streamline your client onboarding? Check out our 6-step client onboarding checklist (with template) that includes automation ideas.

Make scheduling and meetings easier 

If you're running a business, there's barely enough time in your day to drink your morning coffee, especially if you're wrangling a busy calendar. You have to write reminders, create video call links, add that invitee to your CRM—the list goes on.

All that time spent on administrative tasks could be spent on the more important things—like business strategy and growth. 

Here are a few ways to automate your recurring scheduling tasks.

Send meeting reminders 

Create (and add) video conferencing links  

Add booked clients to the right place 

Want to learn more ways you can automate your meetings? Discover 4 scheduling automation workflows to make meetings easy

Level up team collaboration 

Being a successful business means making sure everyone is on the same page. But regularly updating everyone can become a full-time job. Automation lets you keep everyone on your team informed without having to spend hours typing messages and updating project management tools.

Improve your team communication 

When there are a lot of moving pieces, it's easy to mix up who's supposed to do what. Streamline project management communication by automatically sending tasks to the right tool. That way, everyone can see what they need to do—in the right place.

Adding a path step to your Zap—available on a paid plan—will route specific tasks to specific people based on certain conditions. 

A team chat channel can also be turned into a command center for project activity, ensuring everyone stays on the same page. 

Pro tip: You can create daily, weekly, or monthly Zaps that share a list of tasks from your project or task management app to wherever your team (or you) will see it. 

Take charge of your document management

When you share documents across your team, it's easy for things to get lost in the shuffle—especially when files get sent as attachments in emails. Instead of digging through your inbox, use automation to instantly send email attachments to your file management software. 

Automation can also help you keep track of documents throughout a lead lifecycle. For example, you can make sure notes, contracts, and invoices are all accounted for—whether that's in your CRM or file storage tool. 

Streamline accounting processes

Accounting tasks are essential to keep revenue flowing, but day-to-day finance tasks can fall through the cracks when a lean team is busy with other tasks. With automation, you can take care of some of the most common manual finance tasks without lifting a finger. 

Automate your invoicing tasks

So you've made the sale! But that doesn't mean the work is done. You still need to create, log, and send an invoice to your customer. Here are a few ways automation can take on those administrative tasks, so you can get back to closing more sales. 

Want to explore more ways you can automate your accounting tasks? Discover 5 workflows to streamline your invoice and payment processes.

Instantly update your sales or account management team

To create a seamless customer experience, you need to ensure your team is looped in on sales and invoices. You can do that by integrating your bookkeeping software with your communication tool. That way, your team can send timely follow-ups and thank yous.

Get more done with automation

The longer you run a small business, the more you discover that keeping it operating means maintaining the processes behind the products. Using automation, you can streamline your business processes for improved efficiency—without adding busywork to your to-do list.

New to Zapier? It's a tool that helps anyone connect apps and automate workflows—without any complicated code. Sign up for free.

This article was originally published in May 2020, written by Nick Moore. It was updated in March 2022 by Ellie Huizenga.

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