Every day we hear about transformational technology (many conveniently released around the holidays.) In fact, it’s hard to believe that the original iPhone is only seven years old.
These rapid changes can be delightful as a consumer, but as a business owner? Constant progress implies painful and pricey changes. First you have to buy new devices. Then, you have to learn a new process of doing things. And by the time you hit your groove? A new, better, faster product is already out!
But what if your outmoded tech is hurting your business? What if it’s costing you thousands of dollars a year? Something as simple as paper forms could be a huge drain on your time and money. How? Here are three ways paper forms drag on businesses.
1. Paper Slows Down Your Sales Cycles
Whether you’re in consulting or construction, invoices are crucial for getting paid. But paper invoicing is a slow process. You or your employees begin by gathering the data by hand. Then, you have to transport it back to the office (which can get lost along the way). After that, it takes you time to enter that data into your databases.
Sure, you know all these steps. But do you realize how slow they are? Even if you email the final invoice to your clients, this process can take you days or weeks. That’s slowing down the arrival of your hard earned cash.
A mobile app can cut your sales cycle down dramatically. With barcode scanning, auto-populated fields, and calculations, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to fill out a form. Even better? You enter the data once. After you’re done, your submission goes straight to the cloud. From there, you can email it out as a PDF, import it into your own database, or access it from the cloud at any time. So simple, you could do it over a cup of coffee.
2. Paper Costs You Thousands of Dollars a Year
Sure, ordering paper forms isn’t that expensive. But like a cheap pair of shoes, it will cost your business more over time. From data entry to paper storage, paper quietly drains your organization of money and time.
For instance, do you have one person who does all the data entry? In that case, you’re spending $20,000-$30,000 a year on data entry alone. Or maybe every one of your field workers has to spend an hour or two each week entering their forms into the database. Those hours at the computer means fewer jobs each week out in the field.
But wait! You’re also paying to store that paper. How much space are your filing cabinets taking up? At 15.7 square feet, your average filing cabinet is costing you $236-$314 (depending on how much you pay for your office). There goes another couple of hundred dollars out of your bottom line.
With mobile apps, there’s no need for redundant data entry. Remember? Your submission goes straight to the cloud, where it’s safely and securely stored. The office worker who was doing data entry can now work on marketing or sales. Your field workers can spend more time in the field each week. Ditch those filing cabinets and enjoy a more spacious office, and a happier workforce.
3. Paper is Easy to Ignore
Distinguishing yourself as a business gets harder every day. Consumers have messages thrown at them from a thousand directions: TV, billboards, even Facebook and Twitter. With so many avenues, how do you stand out? There’s a hidden opportunity in your forms.
In almost any transaction, the customer gets a paper form. Could be a boring white receipt or a pink carbon copy. Some businesses customize these, but customers easily lose and forget these forms (I know I do.) With mobile apps, you can send your customers a copy. Once you submit a form, you can automatically email a customer a PDF.
In this PDF optin is a great marketing opportunity for your business. You can create great visuals including a custom logo and coupon. Even create a thank you note in the email, and automatically fill in their name. You’ll present a great looking receipt and show that you value your customers.
Customizing your materials will help you stand out to your customers. They’ll love the ease of accessing their documents via email. They won’t have to squint to understand an invoice, all the information is typed up and easy to read. A custom PDF will put your best foot forward, and a foot above the competition.
Paper forms have been used by all sorts of businesses for years. Just because it’s the status quo, doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Take a look at mobile apps for data collection. They could save your business time and money (and probably a few paper cuts).
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