Thursday, September 21, 2023

Harnessing Technology to Maximize Efficiency: Cloud-Based Platforms

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Joe Walsh, CEO, Thryva.

Small business owners have many upfront costs to consider when creating business plans and growth strategies.

As you move through the business chain to the procurement of supplies and materials, today you are more likely to deal with: supply chain restrictions and unreasonably high prices. Then comes the staff shortage. I’ve noticed that it’s been costing more money to attract and retain talent since the pandemic. And once you have employees, transporting them in company cars – if your company has them – means almost paying 50% more to fuel the fleet than in previous years.

In terms of advertising, the market has been taken over by giants like Facebook and Google, which can make it harder and more expensive to get potential leads. While these platforms have incredible targeting capabilities, they ultimately encourage small businesses to buy slivers of the market for meaningful costs. It sounds like pennies when you buy, but you’re reaching a very narrow market and when you add up what it costs you to convert leads into a job, I’ve found it’s expensive.

Plus, there’s the looming “R” word, and a sharp downturn threatens to plunge the economy and cripple small businesses. It’s easy to see why it’s a tough job being a small business owner in 2022 and why many are preparing for, or at least afraid ofa recession.

Now is the time to find efficiencies and make changes that can prepare your business for both the current climate and the future. One change many small businesses are pursuing is a move to cloud-based business platforms. According to Flexera’s State of the Cloud report, 45% of small and medium businesses spend up to $1.2 million annually on public clouds. Cloud migration is the defining trend for small businesses this decade, and the reason is the potential for cost and business efficiencies.

Here are several benefits of migrating your business functions with a cloud-based platform and how to make the most of it:

1. Reduce no-shows. They are expensive no matter what industry you are in. You could be a dentist who walks into an empty chair, or a plumber who arrives at a job and finds no one in the house to let you in. With automation that manages calendars, dispatches employees and confirms appointments, no-shows and wasted resources are greatly reduced.

Be critical. The best calendar automation platforms should give your customers the ability to request appointments at any time and sync them with your existing scheduling applications. This way you are never overbooked; all information is available on your smartphone, making you more agile if something changes between appointments.

2. Improve cash flow. Streamline electronic payments to get paid faster and more reliably. Cloud platforms offer a wide variety of payment options that give you and your customers options so you never miss out on revenue. You can also avoid having to wait for funds to clear and pay excessive credit card processing fees.

Meeting customers where they are is important when accepting payments, and customers are everywhere these days. According to a study by PYMNTS, at least 30% of consumers with high payment diversification use the following: debit card, credit card, cash, PayPal, Apple Pay, a store-branded card, and Google Pay. Find ways to cover these payment methods.

3. Keep social media up to date. Cloud-based platforms provide the ability to quickly and easily produce posts across multiple social networks. For example, you can take photos while working to easily keep your stream current and potential customers engaged.

Social media has proven to be a business enabler. For example, Instagram discovered that 50% of those surveyed “say they visited a website to purchase a product/service as a result of seeing in Stories.” I recommend that you find out which social media platform works best for your industry and audience.

4. Improve your online reputation. Trying a new restaurant? Well, how are the Yelp reviews? What does TripAdvisor say? Does That Day Spa Really Offer $200 in Value? Cloud platforms allow you to capture and share customer reviews to showcase your strong reputation with customers.

A report from ReviewTrackers shows that: 88% of the reviews come from just four sites. Finding and choosing a platform that can focus on where the most eyes are will help cement your reputation.

Freedom to be mobile and not miss anything

Many small business owners feel pressured to be available for corporate communications at all times. It’s hard to enjoy the simple things in life like going to your daughter’s soccer game or taking a weekend trip to the mountains when you feel connected to your activities. Used correctly, cloud platforms offer more freedom.

Ultimately, the migration to cloud platforms is an inexorable shift in the business world. We are moving towards a situation where small businesses have to run on mobile devices and cloud platforms are the easiest way to make that possible. Many companies are already around, and it has become commonplace to reach into your pocket and quickly check out a calendar showing who your next appointments are. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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