On the list of thing things we wish we didn’t have to do for our business, chasing clients to sign off on the contracts you have agreed is surely only second to chasing unpaid invoices. Pen and ink signatures present barriers. A walk to the post box, the lack of a stamp, an envelope languishing in an out tray or faffing with the seldom used scanner function on a printer; all these things are standing in the way of getting your contract signed and delivered and you starting your project on time.
It is one of the last areas of work to be digitised effectively, but finally, finally electronic signatures are smashing those barriers!
I use electronic signing software almost every day in my own business and in my client’s businesses. My favourite service by far is Signable. Believe me, I’ve tried several. This is the one I recommend to anyone I’m working with. It’s incredibly easy to use – I think I had my first contract uploaded and out for signing in about 5 minutes. You enter the names and email addresses of the signers, upload a document, drag and drop the signing fields onto the document and hit send. The signers receive an email with a link to the document and step by step prompts to sign. They will receive automatic reminders if they are dragging their feet. When it’s all done, everyone receives a link to the completed document to download. It’s so simple and saves so much time and effort.
Unlike other similar services, Signable offer a handy pay as you go option which is good value for businesses that don’t do high volumes of contracts. If you are doing more than 20 per month there is also a monthly subscription option.
Now I will admit that trying to replicate your signature with a mouse or your finger on a touch screen is still a little on the clumsy side. My signature has certainly lost some of its panache in electronic form. It’s not bad though and this is bound to get better as the technology develops further. Even so, electronic signatures are totally legit. The Law Society have produced chapter and verse on the subject if you really want to reassure yourself. There are very few contexts where they wouldn’t be considered appropriate.
A service like Signable will undoubtedly save you time but it also may help you close more deals and plan your work load and cash flow too. Removing barriers which potentially hold up your contracts means your clients will sign sooner. That’s less chasing for you and more certainty for your business.
So, last time I talked about how you should go about choosing productivity apps. This week I want to give you a real world example of how the right tool can make impressive savings in both time and money.
One of my clients runs an extremely busy consultancy. Her job requires her to have a lot of meetings. Usually one to one meetings with people who are just as busy as she is. She was missing vital opportunities while emails became buried in her inbox so she started working with a virtual assistant – me! I was spending roughly 25% of the time I spent working for her business organising her diary. A few months ago however, she started using YouCanBook.Me and overnight it reduced the hours I spend on her diary to virtually zero!
YouCanBook.Me is brilliant scheduling app that works with Google or iCloud calendars. When someone wants to meet with you, you simply send them a link and they can view and choose a meeting slot. YouCanBook.Me synchs with your calendar so it always shows up to date availability. But the really impressive thing is that by setting up a few simple rules YouCanBook.Me can automatically add in things like travel time around appointments and different durations for different types of meetings so you won’t accidentally over book yourself. Giving people this self service option to book meetings is far more efficient than that frustrating email back and forth and it’s easy for both parties to change the meeting time if something comes up in the meantime. I’m impressed with the interface which not only looks totally professional but is customisable and a joy to work with. If you run the type of business that involves paid for sessions or classes then YouCanBook.Me also integrates with Stripe so you can make bookings and take payments in a single online transaction via your own website – something which in the past would have involved some pretty costly investment in web development.
Setting up a YouCanBook.Me basic account is free. That will give you enough features to start booking meetings right away. If you want further customisation or to accommodate lots of different meeting types (eg. Calls, meetings, classes etc) then you’ll want to upgrade to the paid version which costs £7 per month. I was spending about 2 hours a week working on the diary, so YouCanBook.Me basically saved the equivalent of its annual cost in the first two weeks we were using it. How much time are you spending on organising your meetings? How much is your time worth? How much could you save?
Take a look for yourself at https://youcanbook.me/.
Emily Dover, PA Me Ltd.