As a business owner, you’re juggling multiple tasks each day in order to accomplish everything that needs to be done for your business to succeed.
Whether it’s scheduling social media posts, balancing your staff’s schedules, or making sure you and your team’s workload is optimized, automation can help by reducing the amount of time you spend on the manual task of scheduling. This leaves you more time to focus on important tasks such as iterating on old ideas or coming up with new marketing strategies.
In this piece, we’ll walk you through the different types of automated scheduling you might find within a software tool and go over what type of scheduling automation is best for different businesses.
Scheduling, even if you’re scheduling something to be published at a later time, still means you are sitting down and manually inputting every single thing. For instance, if you spend every Monday morning making sure your calendar is updated to reflect your schedule that week, you’re still devoting 30 minutes to that process. Every week.
And that’s probably not the only time you’re spending manually scheduling out some of your most common tasks. Even if you feel like you’re saving time by doing all the scheduling in one big batch, you’re not.
Calendar automation is one of the more commonly used forms of automation. Have a standing appointment each week? You probably use automatic scheduling. You scheduled it once and set it to automatically reschedule for the same time each week until it’s done. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that time saved in other parts of your business as well?
Let’s say you run a retail store and have weekly recurring specials that you want to post on social media. Normally, you’d manually schedule those to go live at certain times each week. With scheduling automation within a tool, all you have to do is schedule those posts one time and the tool will continue posting accordingly.
The benefits are two-fold: You don’t have to stress about remembering to do it, and you will save hours a week once you start automatically scheduling your most common, repeated tasks.
Take a look at your weekly schedule and audit every task you do. Note all of the tasks that you find yourself doing multiple times a day. Go through that list and figure out which of those tasks stay the same each time you do them, and automate them with software.
In fact, most types of software come with some basic automation capabilities. You can search for software built for your specific type of business, and chances are there will be options that have automation built in.
Some of the more common types of software that specialize in automation are:
Social media management software can help you schedule and publish content to social media platforms either automatically at set times each week for recurring posts or on a set timer so that you don’t have to stop what you’re doing at 5:42 PM to post something
Marketing automation software helps to automatically identify and qualify new and potential leads by using existing leads data to enhance your leads scoring
Scheduling software helps you operate more efficiently by allowing you to manage and track you and your employees’ time, create and maintain schedules, balance workloads, and track tasks in real-time
Human resource software automates expense reporting, employee onboarding, and payroll, which can allow you to focus on more strategic needs
Tasks that require a more personalized touch should still be manually scheduled. Emails to specific people, interview scheduling, employee scheduling (unless your employee schedules are the same each week), and social media posts that are more personalized should all still get the attention they deserve. Anything that isn’t mundane or repetitive.
Small-business owners or freelancers who don’t have dedicated staff for social media or marketing can benefit greatly from utilizing this type of scheduling automation. Most larger businesses will have dedicated marketing, social media, and HR teams whose entire job is making sure everything runs smoothly. But if you’re a solopreneur or run a smaller store, you’re likely wearing all the hats at once—helping to alleviate some of that stress is crucial for success.
The oft-quoted stat that sales reps only spend 34% of their time making sales calls is a frightening one for a business owner if you rely on a sales team to produce revenue. And you’re not wrong to be concerned.
One of the places that sales reps lose the most time between calls is an inefficiency with their time management. That inefficiency can be helped or eliminated completely by using automation. Whether it’s scheduling automation or salesforce automation, your sales team shouldn’t be focused on menial, repetitive tasks that can be done for them such as scheduling inbound sales calls.
In fact, Gartner recommends that businesses reduce activities sellers spend too much time on relative to commercial impact such as future sales forecasting and customer research. These activities should be automated, transferred to support teams, or even eliminated where possible. (Full article available for Gartner clients).
If your sales reps are manually scheduling all of their inbound calls, not only are you missing out on several leads by spending unnecessary time scheduling, but that’s time they aren’t spending on qualifying leads or building concrete, long-lasting relationships with potential and existing customers.
Sales force automation software (SFA) automates the business tasks carried out within sales processes such as order processing, inventory management, information sharing, customer mapping, sales forecasts, and performance analysis.
The truth is, if your business relies on sales reps to generate revenue, you should be utilizing some form of automation, whether you’re a small business or an enterprise.
You should start thinking about how to use software to eliminate as many menial, repetitive tasks as possible—then you can spend time doing what’s most important for the growth of your business.
If you want to find out more about how artificial intelligence can help with scheduling optimization, we’ve also got you covered: "Scheduling Optimization Got You Down? AI for Scheduling is the Way to Go."