#139 Offseason to-do list #1 – canned responses and email workflow

Show notes from Episode #139 of the Sweaty Startup Podcast.

This is an important time for your business. If you don’t yet have a business, this is a wonderful time to start one. Winter is often slow for service-based entrepreneurs, but too many people waste their winters thinking there’s little to do if their phone isn’t ringing. Rather than stop working on your business, this is an opportunity to drive the value-add work that you may not have time to do during the busy season.

The Value of the Off-Season

Over a few episodes, Nick will talk about things you can do to prepare your business for the next busy season. 

  • Storage Squad used to do 95% of its business in two distinct months–when students were moving in and moving out of their college housing. 
  • Rather than take the winter off, this is when they were able to deliver the valuable work that allowed their revenue to scale rather than plateau. 
  • Going to the next level and growing a business worth having is done during the off-season.
    • This is when you get to work on the important but not urgent tasks that will pay you back over time.
  • The off-season is an opportune time to start your business.
    • In this time, you can build the foundation that will set you up for success during the busy period
    • Marketing, website creation, SEO, and working through the Sweaty Startup essential tools list all take time, but can all separate you from your competition. 

Step One

The first priority to focus on for any business in the off-season is streamlining and curating customer communication. 

  • A customer in the know is a happy customer, and dissatisfaction arises when there is miscommunication between you, your business, and the customer. 
  • Managing expectations is something many business owners do extremely poorly regarding the timeline of a project, pricing, or expected deliverables. 
  • Proper communication is vital, and with the right systems in place you can keep a customer more in the know, while putting in less hours.

You need an automated email template system. When a customer requests a quote or schedules a service, they need to get an email. The sooner the better. The top complaint on Yelp reviews is often about a company’s communication, and you have the chance to blow customers away.

  • Gmail offers canned responses through a shortkey that pulls up a previously drafted email. 
  • These can be drafted in advance, and not only save hours but increase the quality of your communications
  • Going through the process of drafting these emails is a good way to think about how you want to shape the customer experience. 
  • To take it a step further, consider using a service like Jobber, which can automate the customer interaction process for you. 
    • You draft emails for when a customer requests a quote, when you’re on the way to the job, or when you’re finished with the job, and Jobber will send them automatically.

Shaping Your Emails

When your communication is standardized, the product is incredibly important. These communications need to be both professional and concise.

  1. For each email scenario write 500 words
  2. Cut it in half
  3. Try to cut it in half again
  4. Replace half the periods with exclamation points to convey friendliness and energy.

With Storage Squad, customers get an email when they commit to a pickup, an email on when and where to pick up boxes and tape, instructions on how to pack with the boxes and tape, and an email 24 hours before pickup on how to act on pickup day. This makes life easier for both the Storage Squad team and the customer. 

Consider every scenario that a customer may want or need communication from you, and never assume that a customer will read your website. Be clear and to the point, with bulleted lists and bold letters. Consider even including embedded videos for clear direction. Customers will be impressed at how professional you are.

Now sit at your computer and make a bulleted list of every scenario where a customer should get an email from you. Consider how you’re going to automate these emails. Read them over at least once a day. The payoff come the busy season will be unmatched customer service along with time and frustration saved on your end.


[4:35] Why the off-season is a great time to start your business

[5:45] The not-so-secret key to customer satisfaction

[11:33] How to shape your emails

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.