Written by Jody Knouse Poland and Jennifer Vickery
With gas prices around $4 per gallon, the cost of attending meetings, driving to the office, and even driving to the bank can really add up, especially when all of the employees on your payroll are doing the same. Profitability is a big factor for businesses striving to stay afloat and keep employees happy. With the additional costs incurred commuting, small and large businesses alike are turning more often to telecommuting and teleconferencing.
Here are five easy ways to help put the ‘tele’ into your business and a couple extra dollars back into your (and your employees’) pockets.
1. Conference calls instead of meetings. “Meetings via phone can be as effective, or even more effective, than in person meetings,” says Jody Knouse Poland, professional business coach and co-founder of The Renaissance Group. “Just because the meetings are held over the phone doesn’t mean they should be treated any differently than an in-person meeting. Send an agenda ahead of time, come up with talking points, assign certain items to team members, take roll call when the meeting begins to ensure everyone is present, and follow-up via email with a meeting summary. Best of all, you don’t need a pricey conference call system as there are plenty of quality free conference call services available.”
2. Become a scheduling master. “Look at the location of your upcoming meetings and see how you can package them together so there is less travel,” says Jennifer Vickery, CEO of National Strategies Public Relations. “Or perhaps, make one day out of the week your travel/meeting day during which you line up all your meetings, so that the rest of the week you can stay put. This can really help with the gas bill and result in more productivity. Also, don’t forget to call ahead and confirm the meeting just to avoid an unnecessary trip.”
3. Sharing is caring. “Sharing your work via screen share or other collaboration tools, including Google Documents, Podio, Basecamp, as well as others, really promotes teamwork on projects and cuts out the travel,” explains Poland. “Best part is, many of these tools have free or low cost plans.”
4. Sales can be online. Nowadays, prospects are open to receiving sales “calls” online. “Try utilizing a webinar, e-newsletter and other online tools to replace the cost of travel involved with sales,” says Vickery. “Make sure your materials are clear and consistent and that you’re tracking results. You will be surprised with how effective online sales can be.”
5. Skype is your friend. “There is a lot that can be done using Skype and other services just like it,” says Vickery. “Anything from interviewing, training, meeting, or even a virtual lunch break can be handled from just about anywhere, as long as the device you are on is equipped with a camera.”
Poland adds “and there may be times where you don’t need a camera. Sometimes, video calls can be distracting. Skype works well for audio calls and screen sharing. It’s ideal for small group trainings or computer one-to-one support. And, you don’t need to clean your office or throw on a suit jacket. If you wanted, without a video camera, no one will know if you’re working from home in your PJ’s.”
The main point is you can enjoy the benefits of working from home without losing the productivity and saving time and money too.
By simply incorporating even a few of these ideas into your business structure you will notice savings at the gas pump, and in your wallet. Additionally, your employees will likely be thankful, more efficient and spend more time being productive versus traveling non-stop to meetings. Doing these simple and small things can have truly a positive impact on all aspects of your business.
About the Authors: Jody Knouse Poland is the Co-founder and Chief Engagement Officer of The Renaissance Group, a management consulting and coaching firm to the growth and success of small businesses and organizations. The Renaissance Group, creator of the Growth by Design™ business development program, is based in Tampa, FL. For more information, go tohttp://www.renaissanceconsultants.com or call (813) 636-9181.
Jennifer Vickery is CEO/President of National Strategies Public Relations. She advises organizations and professional individuals on public relations efforts and campaigns. National Strategies Public Relations (NSPR) is a national public relations agency based out of Tampa, Florida. For more information visit nspublicrelations.com or call (727) 946-2082.