While we may individually consider ourselves creatures of habit, enforcing consistency in a business setting can be challenging. Every team contains a mix of different strengths and personalities, some of which can oppose systemizing.
Yet, it’s clear that processes matter. According to Gartner research, companies that properly employ business process management (BPM) experience 15% higher returns. In some cases, they even avoid potentially disastrous outcomes of not having established processes.
One way to experience these benefits is to templatize as many tasks and documents as possible. You may not realize how many actions your employees take every day that could be simplified by using templates — or the degree to which templatizing could strengthen your client relationships and even increase your profitability.
Completing client work with the help of templates can:
When tasks are comprised of simple steps that are always the same, people can complete them quickly. For example, sending a quote or invoice is much easier if it only consists of duplicating a document and changing a few fields. Keeping track of project tasks or an internal approval process using templates can be just as easy and replace unnecessary email threads.
Doing a bit of work on the front end — setting up templates for both client communications and internal tasks — helps your team move faster every time they need to walk through the steps you’ve created. Having these in place also reduces the risk of error.
|How to achieve max efficiency with templates: As your team becomes accustomed to using templates, it’s smart to set up regular reviews to hone each process and replace unnecessary manual steps with automation, allowing for even more efficiency over time.|
It’s important to feel confident in your business’s public image, including visual identity, messaging and tone. Templates can keep all of these elements in line.
Most people are familiar with using templates for branding, which begins in the marketing stage but shouldn’t end there. After prospects become clients, they will continue to recognize the consistent look and feel of your quotes, contracts and emails.
Moreover, the tone of these communications can make a difference in how clients view your services and the state of their relationship with you. If each of your employees writes differently, clients won’t be able to pinpoint your business’s values and personality. A major variation in tone can even cause problematic misunderstandings.
|How to maintain consistency with templates: Establish a branded design for emails and documents you need for each stage of client interaction — even conversational follow-up. Then, approve verbiage at the leadership level and determine protocol for the words or fields employees are allowed to edit.|
No business leader, nor employee, wants to become bogged down in endless task lists. But if you’re not intentional about project management and keeping clients updated, that’s exactly what could happen.
Client work management is an area in which templates can have a profound impact. They can reduce our tendency to do things slightly differently with each client. Whether for a list of sales follow-up reminders, a project task template or a standardized support ticket response, having one simplified approach can lessen the time your employees spend keeping clients happy.
|How to increase speed with templates: Use a client portal to provide on-demand visibility into task progress, budget usage, invoicing history and more. Templated request forms and automatic replies can further boost the value of portal access and redirect your team’s time to billable work.|
Inadequate recordkeeping can cause you to send significant hours down the drain. McKinsey reports that the average knowledge worker spends 20% of their time searching for internal information or connecting with colleagues who can guide them to that information.
Instead of having different kinds of documents housed in endless online folders — or a literal paper trail, it’s wise to build a history of consistent templates that everyone understands how to read and interpret. Use a software platform with a template library and decide on company-wide or department-specific naming conventions.
|How to stay organized with templates: Manage your projects and track your employees’ time with a platform whose templates feed into auto-generated reports. You’ll have reliable digital storage, plus the bonus of more accurate insights to make data-driven decisions.|
Getting more organized with the help of templates will inspire and support your employees. They’ll feel less distracted by minor questions around how to set up documents or how to phrase emails and, instead, be able to focus on solving problems and staying connected with colleagues. Most people also appreciate predictable processes and clear expectations.
At the same time that individual contributors are experiencing less stress, your leadership team can ensure accountability by having templates to cross-reference. They can micromanage less, delegate more confidently and effect change quickly by simply updating a template.
|How to cooperate internally with templates: Get all your employees on the same page, especially your remote teams, by working in one centralized platform that supports templated tasks.|
As your business grows and you bring on more clients, there’s a risk of unintentional inconsistency. Your staff could choose to represent and execute your services and mission in more than one way. Relationships suffer because people don’t have a strong sense of what your business stands for or how it treats clients. Allowing this to continue can increase the average lifetime value of your client base, especially if you get word-of-mouth business and any of your clients talk to each other.
Templates are a relatively simple tool to encourage clients to stay. Every time they open an email, pay an invoice or receive a work estimate, they know it’s from your business and understand where to look for important details. No matter which team member it comes from, templated communication (that still represents your brand’s personality) can instill trust.
|How to hold onto valuable clients with templates: Ensure that your billing and invoicing processes are templated and automated, as these are perhaps the most crucial communication you have with clients. They need to know why and how much they’re being charged and how to pay you easily without getting confused.|
Templated processes can have a positive effect on resource management. Because of the amount of time templates can save in all stages of the client journey, your team could spend far less time on admin and significantly more on billable work.
Any time you move resources from the non-billable bucket to the billable one, you’re likely to see profits grow — because client payments can be applied to direct effort.
|How to up profits with templates: Start tracking employee utilization with a template-centric platform that differentiates between billable and non-billable time and generates reports on actual vs. estimated time. You’ll clearly see which clients and types of work are most profitable and make informed decisions about resource allocation.|
Interested in how all of this plays out in a professional services context? Schedule a demo of Accelo to see the power of templates in action.