Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Tim Meisenheimer of Streamline Financial Services. Streamline is a Chicago-based next generation financial advisory firm that Tim’s elder, but shorter brother Toby founded 13 years ago. Both being former math teachers, they run a young, growing firm using tech hacks to streamline their business processes and in turn, the client experience. To keep up with STREAMLINE’s every move, follow them on Twitter @streamlinefin.
Just this week, I was trying to gift some stocks to my church before the end of the year. I needed to sign a letter of instruction (LOI) and then fax it to the custodian —but I was on Christmas vacation with my family at the in-laws’ place. I could have wound up in Fax Hell, we’ve all been there before. But I had my Faxination.
Two years ago, it would have played out like this:
- 5 Min: Type up the letter in Microsoft Word ($199 for a license)
- 1 Min: Email the document to my in-law’s computer
- 2 Min: Print the letter from their computer, then add my John(Herbie) Hancock
- 20 Min: Drive to Office Depot/Max/Staples to send fax
- 5 Min: Watch Andy in the copy center warm up the fax machine like he’s preheating an oven
- 5 Min: Fail first attempt because Andy didn’t pay attention in fax machine training
- 5 Min: Get the manager to come over and send
- 20 Min: Drive back to house
- 120 Min: Call the custodian a couple of hours later to confirm. No Dice! They never received the fax
- Rinse and repeat steps 4-8 until successful
- Begin self-loathing – swear to yourself, never again
Elapsed Time: 3-6hours
Task Time: 1-2 hours
After all that, I don’t have a digital copy of the signed letter, nor do I have a permanent record of the fax confirmation. And an entire afternoon of Christmas vacation is wasted.
Tasks like these can be discouraging. To a client, it can be downright frustrating. Every logistical back and forth with a client can push them away. There has to be a better way to do this, otherwise we have a failure to adapt.
Get Your Faxination: < 140 chars
Here’s how I did it (in less than 140 characters):
— STREAMLINE FINANCIAL (@streamlinefin) December 28, 2011
Task and Elapsed Time: 6 minutes
Google Docs. free.
Dropbox. free. and I have a digital copy of the fax in a signed, searchable location.
Genius Scan. free (and on your iPhone, which my brother still has in his hand when he’s putting his arm through his shirt sleeve in the morning).
RingCentral. $39.99/mo. per user. Includes online access to all voicemail, faxes, call records, and an iPhone app to boot! Double bonus: e-mail notification of successful fax confirmation and text alert of failed faxes.
The fax hack is just one example of how you can drastically cut time away from tasks, getting back that time to give to your family, read a book, or—get this— work on a new business idea (say what!?).
What about password managers, email newsletters (done right), web-based email, cloud-based document collaboration, or CRMs? Are you taking advantage of hacks that could cut your time of certain tasks in half, much less by 90%?
“We’ve always done business this way” doesn’t work when the difference between “this way” and the new way is an issue of saving hours of time. There are low-priced solutions that can increase efficiency for your team and for your clients. In this new microeconomy of 99-cent apps and Cloud-based SaaS apps, you don’t have to drop 3 G’s at the onset for a piece of software. Even upgrading to a premium edition for these services is still cheaper than your cable bill.
Just two years later, I’m able to cut the time for a task by over 90%.
That’s great, but could we even make this better? Tell us your way in the comments including how long it takes and cost and let’s see who has the best fax hack.
TIP: Big change can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to change multiple things at one time. That is what makes #AdvisorHacks perfect. They’re small, simple things that immediately reduce your work. Take it slow and keep trying new things.
Remember, it’s all about Baby Steps: