5 Reasons Why Document Templates Save You Time
If you don’t have a single document template in sight, don’t worry, because most of the business I work with didn’t have templates either. Many businesses start off small, as a hobby or a side-hustle, but then they grow. Sometimes that growth can be quick and there isn’t time to sit down and write templates, or for some businesses they simply don’t know what templates are and how they can benefit a business.
Fear not, my blog post can help. Keep reading to find out not only why document templates save you time, but also what to create and how.
What are business document templates?
There isn’t a business that doesn’t in some way produce/send the same information time and time again. This type of information includes responding to email enquiries, sending proposals, booking in clients, sales, accounts, newsletters and so on (there’s more examples further down in the blog). Templates can be created in advance using your branding and saved, then used as and when you need them.
Think about how much time you could save by simply selecting a proposal template, editing, and sending, instead of writing if from scratch each time.
The best bit about creating templates is that you don’t need fancy software, as you can create them using the resources you already have. Of course, you might have systems like Mailchimp, ClearBooks, ActiveCampaign etc that will have editable template automation inbuilt, and I would always advocate spending time using this automation as apposed to manually sending info out.
Below are three examples of templates that I use in my business; a blog promo checklist, client proposal and a task outsourcing sheet. These were all created in Canva.
What are the benefits of using templates?
Increased Productivity – you do have to spend some time initially creating the templates, but the time you save when you start using them is substantial. And you don’t have to start from scratch, use what you are already sent and build from there.
Ensure consistency throughout the business – at some point you may need to outsource work and having templates set up makes it super easy. For example, if you’re a coach you could have a series of templates written for the client journey from initial enquiry, booking etc. All your VA has to do is monitor the process and send template emails which aren’t automated. This gives you peace of mind that all communication with potential clients is written using your tone, is branded, contains the info you want and is error-free.
Reduce errors - Writing emails from scratch each time means that you are exposing yourself to grammatical errors, missed information and forgetting to include attachments. And of course, the busier you become, the more likely this is going to happen.
Templates are professional – sending out information that is branded and contains all the relevant info gives your (potential) customer a great first impression.
Smooth out processes – the first step is to think about what templates you are going to need. For some processes there might only be one, but for others like on-boarding there could be a series of templates needed. This is a great opportunity to map out the customer journey etc and identify where and when the communication needs to be. This process, known as process mapping, is important because it can identify who does what, when it needs to be done, highlights any bottlenecks or repetition, in addition to identifying what templates need to be created.
How do I start creating my templates?
You can either employ someone like me to create templates for you or create them yourself. There are many great resources online that help, including Husbspot. You can also create templates in Outlook and Gmail. For me Outlook templates are a real time saver.
A great way to start is to keep a list to hand and make a note every time you send or do a repetitive task that could be templated (is that an actual word)? Allocate time in your diary to create your templates or work on a process map and stick to it! Take it a task at a time.
You will also need to think about how and where you are going to store your templates for easy retrieval. If other people need access, then Google Drive or Office365 are excellent sharing options. You will also need to think about GDPR in terms of privacy if you are obtaining, using and storing certain types of date.
I think it’s important to note that legal templates like contracts, NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements), terms of business, privacy policies etc should be purchased from a reputable company and preferably be relevant to your business. For example, I use KoffeeKlatch for my contract, booking form, terms of business etc. These are all bespoke to the Virtual Assistant industry.
Types of templates that you can create
This list isn’t exhaustive as businesses are so different:
Accounting templates such as invoices
Email templates for enquiries, appointments, follow up, testimonial request, proposals
Meeting documents – agendas and minutes
On boarding for both staff and clients
Annual reports, analytics for social media, website and mailing list
Newsletters and mailing lists
Contracts, terms of agreement
Feedback and testimonials
Quotes and proposals
Client forms – Google or Office365 forms. Fillable PDFs work well.
Setting up templates are not only a great way to improve efficiency and productivity, but they also enable you to re-evaluate your procedures to make sure that all processes and communications within your business are streamlined and professional.