Working with design professionals in their businesses, it seems too many are operating with random piles, sticky notes, and a chaotic office. Organization saves precious time, creates greater confidence in your business, and lets you always know exactly where you stand for success. There are simple and proven techniques to get and stay on top of the paper tiger.
Mastering of client files
Each file folder should be clearly marked with the customer’s name, address, contact phone number, and email address. To make it really easy to use, project management folders are available at any office supply resource. These provide a graph where you can record your clients’ visits and progress on the front of the folder. Keep all job receipts, samples, product slip sheets and customer notes in the file folder. When a job is complete, move the folder to inactive but follow up regularly.
Organization of business receipts
Non-customer related receipts such as those for marketing, office supplies, car expenses, insurance, employee meals and more should be submitted monthly, if not weekly. You can simply use an accordion file folder, or if (like mine) you have too many, use 6×9 manila envelopes in a file drawer and clearly label each one with the expense category and year. Then you can easily turn them over to your bookkeeper or accountant in time for annual and quarterly financial and tax preparation.
Conquering Purchase Orders
While if you’re really on top of your game, you’ll be doing all of this electronically, it’s very hard to avoid the role of vendors! So, print one copy of each order, keep it in a three-ring binder with dividers per month, staple all relevant documents to each order. This makes it easy to track and trace. Be sure to record the name and date of anyone you spoke with regarding the order on the original purchase order. Plus, for quick reference, you can keep track of all orders, including date, purchase order number, vendor, products ordered, expected due date, and received date. Old fashioned but it works, yes you can do this in an excel spreadsheet too! For ease, I make my own purchase order numbers, they are sequential, but I include the customer’s initials before each number.
Track your time
Yes, most of us work at least part or full hours, whether consulting, creating, designing, training, or managing projects. You’ll make more money with a daily check-in than with a mental download once a week or once a month. Create an Excel spreadsheet on your laptop or PDA or on a green pad and keep it in your car. Assign values to the time spent (on the left side), is it consulting, resources, design, space planning, installation, project management? Assign project names at the top, then record dates and times. What increment you work in is up to you, some do it 15 minutes, others 30 minutes, or a full hour. Biweekly or monthly invoice.
Regular billing keeps cash flowing
Too often, you don’t bill until you need cash, forgetting that there’s always a delay between when you request payment and when you receive it, often a delay of 30, 60, even 90 days despite the terms you’ve set in advance. payment on receipt. So bill often first. That means a minimum of biweekly and monthly. Also, for your services, work with an advance. You can provide advances for as little as 5 hours or for a percentage of the project budget. This commits the client to the project and allows them to get money up front. At the expense of each advance, send an invoice marked as paid with the detail of its use and then include the next advance. This will keep you on track instead of behind. You own a business, not a bank!
Using the easy-to-implement system here will get your paper nightmares under control, keep you organized and on track to make money. The passion for the work is paramount, but useless if you are not making a profit!