When it comes to doing business, the tools we use for our trade can simplify (or complicate) our businesses. We've all fought with the finicky CAT tool now and again. Eventually most of us settle on one that does the job and that we can work in without pulling out all our hair.
But one area that I had yet to find a great solution for was a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool that fit the way I do business. As you know, I'm a freelance translator, as well as a small translation agency owner. And I can tell you that I wish I'd found this tool early on in my translation career, because it serves my business so well.
Like many translators and interpreters, I often kept track of my projects using my email for customer relationships and engagement, an Excel sheet for project tracking (I had quite a complex one going for many years!) and QuickBooks for accounting. Whew! That can be a lot to keep track of, and I was frustrated with what felt like a lot of redundant work on my part to make sure that I didn't drop the ball on any of my projects. I knew there had to be a better way. So, of course, the first place I looked was to see what our own industry has to offer. And I have to say, I ended up feeling even more frustrated. None of the tools I'd found or tested could do all that we wanted them to do in my business. And some were just downright too expensive for my budget.
If you're anything like me, you want to work with words and keep the administrative stuff to a minimum. You may even put off invoicing clients because you're so swamped with work. Or you may have a system that works for you, but you know there's room for improvement, just like I did.
After testing a variety of T&I-industry CRM tools, I finally decided to look elsewhere. This was at the same time that I started to look at how other freelancers and small businesses in other industries do things. And I have to say, I love the solution I found. In walked HoneyBook.
I'll admit that at first I was a bit skeptical. After all, this tool didn't seem made for a business (or industry) like mine. But I kept an open mind, and I quickly found that it actually works for just about any creative type of business, big or small.
Since I jumped on the HoneyBook bandwagon, I can tell you that the constant updates and improvements they make and the customer service they provide are some of the best I've seen. And I'm not that easy to please when it comes to the proper tools for my business. I want my clients to trust me and love doing business with me. So once I saw how HoneyBook works for a service-based business, I had to have it. After using it for over a year, I feel like I can give my honest review here with a big thumbs up.
Think, a CRM tool that allows you to:
○ Streamline processes in order to make sure clients have the same great experience every time they interact with you and save you time in the process
○ Keep track of each and every project from start to finish: client inquiry to invoicing
○ The option to create template emails so that you can respond to clients efficiently and give them a really positive (and attractive!) view of what you do in your business and how you can help them
○ The ability to see when and if a client has viewed your emails, contracts, invoices, etc. This saves SO much time and wondering "Did they read my email?"!
○ The option to add workspaces on specific projects so that you can include and/or interact with colleagues, contractors, the trusted colleague who edits your translations, etc. These workspaces are private and can only be seen by you and with those you share them
○ Track everything to do with your bookkeeping, recording and exporting to make the numbers side of your business a lot less painful for us "word people"
○ Import your own contract/proposal and collect clients' e-signatures AND (and this is a big one for many of us) digital payments. In fact, I've found that since using HoneyBook, clients often pay before the project starts or immediately after when they get the invoice. This is a huge plus for cash flow purposes.
○ Create a Contact/Inquiry Form for your website that integrates with HoneyBook so that each time a client or lead fills out the form, it automatically generates a new project/inquiry in HoneyBook. Genius!
○ Use the tool straight from your phone via the HoneyBook app! For now, I believe this option is only available to iPhone users, but one of the HoneyBook concierges told me that they are working on the app for Android users, too.
Want to see how I use HoneyBook in my business on a daily basis? Check out the video below.
Even if you didn't think you are in the market for a CRM tool and that your processes are running just fine, I urge you to take a look at HoneyBook. Just the sheer fact that you can actually see when a client has viewed your email and proposal/quote/invoice will give you some peace of mind and allow you to move on with your day. That alone is priceless. It allows me to waste less time following up with people and stick to what I like to do in my translation business. Let this be your virtual kick in the pants to see if a CRM tool can change your business, too.
And here are several more perks… just in case you are still on the fence.
● A personalized concierge service. These people get back to you fast and they are real people who will help you solve any issues you have. #humansovermachines
● A very user-friendly tool overall. Who doesn't appreciate that?!
● No more waiting on checks to come in the mail from your direct clients. They can pay you directly from the invoice you send, and payment is deposited into your bank account automatically.
● A way to stand out as a freelancer in our industry with customized files, attractive and customizable communications with clients and a professional, streamlined system that will let you get back to what you do best.
● The folks over at HoneyBook are always asking users for feedback and sending out updates to everyone so that you know what's available and when.
● You can try HoneyBook for free and receive 50% off your first year by using any of the links in this blog post.
Without a doubt, HoneyBook is the best $20/month I spend in my business. Hands down.
For the sake of transparency, I am a HoneyBook Educator. I will receive a small affiliate fee should you decide to try HoneyBook using any of the links in this blog post. However, I only promote products I love and use in my business on a daily basis. And I can vouch for this one. It has truly changed my business for the better.