Having a lengthy list of clients sounds like every self-employed person's dream. But managing a growing clientele can become a nightmare without a sound organizational system in place. Here are five ways to make it easier to keep track of clients.
Requesting payment isn't the only thing you can do through an invoice. Online tools like Harvest or FreshBooks allow you to enter vital stats about each client. This might include the business name, location and contact information. This data can act as a digital Rolodex of past and present clients. Having a single source of truth for tracking clients and invoices is quite convenient and helps you stay organized.
Customer relationship management tools (CRM) are more robust options for keeping track of clients. A dedicated CRM is customizable, tracks client contacts and manages the business activity with each client. For example, a CRM can tell you which stage in the deal you're at with every client. Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are the largest CRM providers. But, small business owners may also want to look at smaller providers like Zoho or Insightly. Some CRMs may offer more features than you may use in your business. So, you should consider both your budget and expected needs when choosing a CRM.
An unorganized file system can lead to work getting lost or sent to the wrong client. End these risks by setting up a clearly labeled file system. A physical or digital will work, but make sure it's easy to figure out. Choosing separate files or folders for each client is helpful. Then, create tabs or sub-folders as needed for individual projects.
A sharp memory isn't enough when you're juggling many clients. Instead, set these dates in a calendar like Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar. When adding an event to the calendar, add the name of the client to the event details or a client-specific prefix to the event name. This tip makes it easy to search for meetings or plan for meetings with a particular client.
Organizing emails as they arrive in your inbox is the best way to keep track of emails from many clients. You can do this through the filters or labels feature available in many email platforms. These features allow you to set up rules for what to do when an email from a particular client arrives. For example, you can have the email automatically sent to a specific folder designated for that client. Or, you color-code emails from a particular client. Pre-defined rules for incoming email lets you quickly eye an email and assess its priority without evening opening it.