Are you still relying on paper? Is your company reticent to modernise technology usage? If yes, you and your company can be sustaining much more of an opportunity cost than you know.
Let me give you an example, and since I'm a 'money talks, fluff walks' type of person, I'll quantify what I'm talking about.
While sipping a coffee in a café after a 6am morning pump class, I looked up to see this fellow tapping away at his iPad. I found his case unusual, so I commented on it. We started to chat.
I was speaking with Scott Morrison, an insurance broker. Yes, I admit he is on the younger side of the industry average.
After a lively half-hour conversation, I found Scott to be a stunning example of how making a few changes, modernising the way one works can make one incredibly successful without working harder. Just smarter. While this example is based on an insurance broker it can be translated to any self-employed person, manager or team.
Let's look at Scott's simple use of technology with clients:
Scott chose an industry software (called RMS InControl) that integrates across the internet to allow advisers (and their assistants) to directly work in it while out of the office. One of the many benefits is information can be taken directly from the client, input in front of them, automatically charting for visual emphasis and eliminating an appointment.
Because Scott and the client walk through the questioning process online, all the questions are prompted step-by-step on screen and thus need to be discussed and answered. Some of these questions might be skipped when done by pen and paper. Scott said there's a significant triple benefit. It insures (no pun intended) he's comprehensive and more client-focused in his approach. It benefits his clients as they often comment that as a result of the process they better understand their need of insurance. Since using the online process with clients, his overall income has increased by 25 per cent from extra insurances sold from the discussions prompted by the software.
iPad vs laptop
Scott switched to an iPad to eliminate the barrier that a laptop may make and he uses wireless. He brings a printout of the questionnaire to each client (with pre-meeting questions filled-in) in case there's a problem with the connection.
I think the proof is in the pudding with this statement. Scott said "I've asked every client before we begin if they prefer to go through their insurance plan with me on paper or on the computer. To this day not one has ever selected paper."
When he steps back into his car in the client's driveway, Scott is able to automatically email them a meeting summary and also send to a request to his assistant to start the process of gathering quotations for his advice.
As he doesn't have to go back to the office to drop off paperwork, he drives to his next appointment. This saves him at least 3-4 hours a week travel time and petrol. So Scott saves significant down time travelling, data entry (remember, it's already done with the client). Cuts out the need for one of the appointments. Think of the client perception of Scott's service, follow through and speed. Let's not forget that following the comprehensive questionnaire has increased his income 25 per cent.
Money talks, fluff walks
Let's quantify and look at the dollars and sense of this. One appointment less per new client two hours plus three to four hours travel eliminated per week. Two hours of report writing and data entry eliminated a week. In all, 7.5 hours a week x 45 working weeks = 337.5 hours a working year, or 8 &1/2 weeks or two months!!!! The industry average commission for a new client is $1400. So with 7.5 hours a week Scott could fit in at least 4-6 extra appointments. Two would hopefully be with new clients (not to mention increased premiums from seeing existing clients too).
Presuming he had an 80 per cent sale rate, 2 x 45 weeks x 80 per cent x $1400 (plus Scott earns 25 per cent more) = $126,000 additional income generated. Subtract a 64 gig iPad for $1150. Annual software of $2000 and throw in $2250 (generous) for broadband and mobile computing. $126,000 less $5400 cost = $120,400.
Do you think this is too high an opportunity cost for comfort?