Episode 4 – 8 Automations to Help Grow Your Business, featuring Michael McCrary

Show notes

Looking to automate a few of your business processes to grow your business?

Listen in as Sidney Jackson and Michael McCrary talk about 8 simple automations to help you and your staff free up time, which frees up money, to execute on profitable activities.

In this episode of EntreNetwork we cover several key topics including:

Why Automation is Important (01:00)
· #1 – Send Forms to different apps (04:29)
· #2 – Automatically push data from CRM to Quickbooks (07:10)
· #3 – Automating time entries (09:03)
· #4 – Canned emails to save time (15:30)
· #5 – Social Media Marketing automation (17:18)
· #6 – Making folder templates for projects (22:19)
· #7 – Forcing your business to be profitable with profit-first (23:55)
#8 – Pushing data anywhere with Zapier (28:41)

This is brought to you by Revision Marketing Group

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Team RMG 00:00
Welcome to entre network brought to you by revisione marketing group. This podcast is meant to serve as an entrepreneurial knowledge base of wisdom and practical tips in marketing, branding and technology to help grow your business effectively.

Sidney Jackson 00:19
So we will get started. Welcome you guys to be on network iCast. This one is going to be more so informative. I’m talking about a lot about just automations and automating business processes. My name is Sidney Jackson, I’m the host. And then we have Michael, our IT Support Specialist. And he also does a lot of work with just a video for the podcast, along with the sound engineering. So welcome, Michael,

Michael McCrary 00:46
thank you for having me on the show. I’m really excited to be on the other side of the lens and the microphone and all

Sidney Jackson 00:56
Are you nervous? A little bit? Yeah. Don’t be Don’t be it’s gonna be fine. But yeah, automation, man. I just want to kind of talk about it how, how have you use automation, just from your day to day activities?

Michael McCrary 01:10
Well, you know, at revision automation is implemented into a lot of what we do, just in our day to day in the office, it just kind of helps it the whole idea of automation, of course, is to just streamline and optimize your workflow. Those small little things that are like really monotonous or they might have to be done a lot of times over and over or something that is like you just might forget it, it’s kind of a small thing that you might not always think about. And you find yourself forgetting it a lot or, you know, whatever. Automation is meant to take that task and do it for you. So you don’t have to worry about it, you can put all your energy and all your focus into the stuff that really needs it. Yeah. So day to day, I use, we use Zapier a lot, which is a online automation service they do, they allow you to set up all of these different kinds of automated processes with your website with different applications. It’s a very, very, very versatile piece of software, I think it’s really cool, you can do a lot of cool stuff with it. Agreed. So we do that for internal stuff. And for general like some client stuff as well. Things like form intake and pushing data, you know, around or like using the email system to you know, set it up to notify us or things like that. We also revision, we use automation part part of it for tracking your time entries, weekly hours for certain contracts, demand that, you know, we meet a certain amount of hours and instead of always having to remember to put certain times and we were just able to automate that process. And I’ll get more into that later. Of course, yeah. And then we use it for social media as well. We have automation setup to automatically post social media content across different platforms. Something that, you know, I’ve only recently started to really get knee deep on. Yeah. But it’s really cool, really fascinating. And I’m really liking what I’m learning about it. And I’m just look forward to learning more about it. So yeah, yeah, so we could say it covers, you know, covers a bunch of things here.

Sidney Jackson 03:23
Indeed it does. And I think well, when I first started the business, I started automating different processes, because it was just me initially, and I had a lot of different processes that I had to do, specifically with like video production. So I came up with a script, automated within like the command line. But that’s gone until like the technical stuff, but just automating the process of duplicating different folders with different Premiere Pro templates and stuff like that. But from a business standpoint, automation is super important because it allows you to become more efficient. So we’ll give you guys like seven really good tips that we use on a day to day basis to automate different processes and workflows to make the business more efficient, and also give our team members more time to do different things. So the first one is fairly simple, but it does provide a lot of automation or a lot of efficiency. Um, so the first one is having a contact form. And then I’m automating the process of sending it to an email. So if you want to kind of talk more about that,

Michael McCrary 04:38
okay, so basically what that entails is this is an implementation of Zapier, just at least for what our purposes are for. So the idea here is that you have a forum on your website, you know, like a newsletter, sign up that says contact us you’ve got a couple of fields set up and then you’ve got your of course your little button where you’re Customers are whoever go on to your site, they fill out your form, click Send. And then you know, they are added to your contact list, your newsletter list, whatever. But at the same time, it’s like, you have to ask yourself, how does it actually do that? And that’s of course, where Zapier comes in. Yeah. Because otherwise, like, if when you hit submit, if you don’t do anything with the data there, it’s just gonna, it’s just gonna kind of exist, it’s not gonna, you’re not gonna be able to see it anywhere else.

Sidney Jackson 05:25
Yeah. So with Zapier, it’s basically like the middleman. So you have different apps that need or want to talk to one another. A lot of platforms such as, like websites and stuff have you built in. But if it doesn’t, and you want to send something directly to a different party, such as email, if you want to shoot it out to an email, or you want to change the wording and stuff like that, having that contact form, pushing that data over to Zapier and then Zapier allowing you to push that data elsewhere. So that can be to email to the person who actually submitted the form, it can also be an email to one of your project managers or someone on your support team. And it can also be like an SMS message, um, if you want to get notified that way. So Zapier is like a really good medium to connect with different apps pretty much

Michael McCrary 06:24
it’s able to let you know, when things happen when when things go through, when there’s new data there, at least, you know, because like I said, you know, you’ll see it immediately. So setting up that in seeing it and emails, whatever, that can be set up later. But being able to be notified when something happens like that is, like you said, like just a really easy, really good tip to be like, okay, I can keep myself updated with what’s going on with my website, who’s there who’s going to it just with a really simple with a web hook, and then the send to the email. So it’d be really useful? I think

Sidney Jackson 06:56
it is, it definitely is. And that has a lot of applications. But that overall workflow is just going to kind of remain the same where you need work information lives in one system, but you need it to be pushed or pulled from a different system. And that gets me to the second one, which is a CRM portion on contact data to QuickBooks. So as a business owner, we find ourselves do look duplicating data a lot, right? So you have your own client relationship management system. Hopefully, if you don’t get with us, we can implement it. But um, you have a CRM, and then you have customers and accounts that live within a CRM, and then you have QuickBooks, accounting, taxes, all of that right, find stuff, but you still have the invoice people. So you need their contact information in QuickBooks. And you can replace QuickBooks with a different application, if you is basically you need information from this one system he needed in another system. So Zapier also helps with that. In the CRM that we use. It has those internal automations, where we can push that data directly from the CRM to QuickBooks, but that’s super practical. One is because our webform it pushes data to an email so we get notified, but it also pushes that contact information to our CRM, which allows us to trigger additional automations. That that’s super helpful. But after it reaches the CRM, it goes to QuickBooks if it’s if it fits this criteria. So that saves probably two or three minutes of me manually inputting into into QuickBooks. But once you actually scale it up, and you’re getting a lot of clients, it saves a lot of time. So that’s the second one on my part of really good one that we have recently implemented was time entries. And I’ll let Michael talk a little bit more about that an automation that he did with that.

Michael McCrary 09:10
Cool. So with our time entries on a weekly basis, as mentioned earlier, we have some certain contracts that need to have a certain amount of hours met and tracked every week for us to be fulfilling our obligations with the contract in terms of putting the work in. So we time we do time tracking through a different budget different ways, but this one is through our CRM, Zoho CRM. And Zoho CRM also is like it’s a CRM, it’s got a lot of different, really practical and really, like, you look at them and you can say like, Oh, I understand what this does. But at the same time, when you think about all the applications that it has, you can really see just how just how much stuff you can do with this CRM software. Yeah. And one of the one of the things that I actually that is really cool with it is scheduling of stuff. And it’s this is something that I actually need to get more into as well. But I’m just general scheduling of different functions doesn’t even have to be time tracking just scheduled time to execute certain code, certain processes, certain functions with certain variables, all kinds of different stuff for you to set up. But for our time entry sake, what I did was or what we both did, we both worked on it was we went in and we started developing a function to be executed. At a certain point, I think like 8am, every, like once a week to map to define the data source where this data is, data is going to be mapped, define how it’s going to be mapped, and then just map it and created as a new time entry in the CRM. For for it to be tracked. So um, Zoho CRM, and this lists in particular has its own unique in house developed coding language called delusions, which I actually didn’t even know about until I started working here. I didn’t have a lot of experience with Zoho, anything but delusions, Zoho is coding language. It’s It’s, it’s, for me, it’s a little bit deceptively simple. Again, it’s kind of one of those things where it has a really cool UI, like they have a lot of drag and drop functionality where, you know, for, you know, your basic function operations, things like that your if bins and all that or it felt statements, you can drag and drop it and get it all through there. So in that way, it actually, like I said, it is really easy to pick up on and see it, but I guess I haven’t any coding language, you know, it takes a little bit of time to get into it. So with delusion, what we did was we created a function that executes, there’s one for every single person every single time entry. So it’s basically just this little chunk of code. And it’s scheduled to execute at every point in time. And what it does is it takes for each individual person that takes their, their ID for like their account in the CRM as an employee, it takes it as a number, it takes the contract as a number. These things that are constants that are like how they’re stored in the CRM, they are identified with these ID numbers. So it takes the number for the person that the time entries being mapped for, takes the code for the contract, and then says, Okay, I’m going to create all of these different, I’m going to, they have this thing called a map function in Toulouse, which essentially allows you to create a data structure and kind of just put things in there kind of in a sequence. That’s probably not the best way to explain it. It just sounds like a very basic data structure. But it has a little bit more of a what’s the word I’m looking for? It’s a little bit more tangible. I think, like as a data as a data structure. It’s not very, it’s not like I then it’s really good specifically for like, this kind of dynamic, versatile data that you’re going to be getting and like mapping to things, it just makes things a lot easier, in my opinion.

Sidney Jackson 13:11
Definitely does. So with Tom entries it is. So Tom entry overall is, right. So trying to make it easy on overall team, it’s like, hey, how do we automate this? And that goes back to that initial conversation of why do you put automation in first in place to begin with an answer is basically to increase efficiency, right. And if it’s super repetitive tasks that you know, you have to do, you know, you have to meet these criterias, you can go ahead and predict that and then automate the process. Um, so what the time entries, we have some that are automatic, but some net or queued up based on like if we meet a client, right? So we’ll look at it and we say, Hey, we met with a client, and then it’s this many hours. And then it’s, it notifies the person. So as far as like the time entries and automating that process, of course, is something that you can’t really automate. Because you can’t predict how much you will spend on outputs on specific specific client. But the ones that’s kind of like the floor, you know, that you can automate that overall process. But with that, we’ll go to Well, yeah, so the luge or the luge, Lucia. I love it, man. I started working with it probably two or three years ago. So Zoho CRM is a really good CRM to automate. I think it’s super efficient in terms of being customizable and that’s why I love it as it person. And then of course, you too, so It can get extremely complex. But just making it extremely simple, simplified, right? So you have everything at your fingertips. But the question becomes, how do you make it? How do you give each team member or each position exactly what they need and and not be, like overkill, but that’s a conversation for a different episode. But next, we’ll go to go into canned emails. So Zoho CRM also offers canned emails, and a canned email is basically a repetitive email that you send out, not on a daily basis, hopefully. But um, every once in a while, right, so for entre network, we have a canned email, telling people Hey, thank you for your interest in entre network. This is sponsored by revisione marketing group. These are some of the links doop, doop, and all the information that they need, right? But for me, or for Mikayla, who’s our project manager to type it all up? It doesn’t really make sense, right? So we use canned emails a lot. And that’s a automation that’s really helpful. It It saves a lot of time. So you can get to other things. And then of course, it helps you with overall typos and everything, right. So we use right inbox, I believe that’s what it’s called, with Gmail, or at least I use it. And then we also use Zoho CRM for canned emails. Yeah.

Team RMG 16:37
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Sidney Jackson 17:18
So the next one is social media marketing. So automating the process of social media posting, and I’ll let Michael, take this one, he kind of touched on it a little bit earlier about the platform that we use. Yeah.

Michael McCrary 17:33
All right. So as you can imagine, when excuse me, when you’re running social media for something, you know, an entity or whatever and you want you obviously you want to be consistently putting out some form of content, even if it’s like, kind of small, you know, like, Hey, we’re here, you know, like, here it is, you know, it’s really something, if you want to have a good presence on social media, especially early on, you really, really have to be persistent and just push it over and over. And obviously, you know, like with that, there’s obviously a lot of duplicated like duplicate posts, possibly, if not duplicate posts, like duplicate bases of posts, where it’s like, you have the kind of the general framework, maybe like the general graphics of a kind of posing, you just go in and give it different text content, you know, or whenever it demands that and then, of course, a lot of a lot of doing that across different platforms, maybe different clients, different purposes. So obviously, like, for anybody to sit down, and for them, they themselves to try and be like, Okay, I’m going to be I’m going to log into all of these different things for all these different people. I’m going to post it all and like, it just it becomes a lot very quickly, obviously.

Sidney Jackson 18:45
Yeah, extremely quickly. Yeah.

Michael McCrary 18:47
So to alleviate some of that, so we can just more focus our energy on the creation of the content versus all that extra stuff. we automate our social media with the program called lumely. And lumely is really cool because its user interface kind of operates as it looks just like a normal calendar. But you It’s okay. But you are able to go in and go through the calendar find different times find different points and kind of create it like an event where you can then go in and you know schedule when you want this content to be dropped across what platforms you want it to be dropped. And then of course all the customization that entails for the different kinds of posts across different platforms, what you’re going to post how you can edit it, um, it’s all kind of right there in the setting up of the event for lumely. And basically if you didn’t just do all that and you can schedule it all as is and that I mean it’ll do it for you, you know, instead of having to take all that extra time to go across different platforms, do all these different things yourself. You’ve got a program that will take one piece of content and you know, you’re able to customize it across your different platforms. And it’ll execute and push all of that content across all the platforms all at once. And you don’t even have to worry about it.

Sidney Jackson 20:08
Yep. So extremely practical. In as far as business, I love practicality. And then efficiency, right? So you always pay for something you need to pay what well, resources, so either time or money. Um, so the question becomes, which one are you trying to pay in exchange for, I guess. So what that does social media management, of course, you can get in there and you can go ahead and do it live time. So for today, if we go ahead and post on revision website or social media accounts, we can do that, but it’s just for today. Um, so we’d like to do it. And I’m just automated. So we have these creative sessions, like once a month, or once every two weeks, where we just kind of go and talk about on different social media post types that we want to do. And then after we get overall foundation from that we have our library of, well, past post types, or the text content, because you touched on an earlier session, some of the stuff is duplicated, right. So not the actual content. But the overall text structure is going to somewhat be the same for if it’s the same post type, right, so if you’re doing like a quote, you have a consistent text content for the quote, where it’s like a paragraph up top, and then there’s a call to action at the bottom, so on and so forth. So that’s what we do as far as like planning it out. And then once we Well, we’ve taken into Canva. And this is talking a lot about the overall social media media process. But it’s super efficient, because we do it all within like a day or two, which saves us time to do other things throughout the month, and also double up on content. So first fill in spontaneous and we want to just kind of do a lot of social media posts for that day, we don’t feel that urge or that or not urge, we don’t feel the stress in terms of having something to post every single day. So a next one, number six is folder templates. So folder template is basically a Kayla’s movement. Get out here. So folder templates. So we use this a lot, especially since we do video production. And then we have to podcast. So with folder templates that basically Well, yeah, a file, a file explorer, or finder, if you’re using Mac. So you have a folder, and then you have like subfolders. Um, so say, for instance, we’re done a website design. So we have these overall format that we kind of go to, right, and we have this SLP, which is a standard operating procedure that says, hey, you need this, this, this, and this, to go through the process of website design and development. So what the folder structure does is, we have documents within like sub folders and stuff that we have to customize each project. So basically having a folder template and then duplicating that for client A, then client B, and then C, you have consistency across the board. And then you can get things in and out quickly. And then you don’t miss things. Because you have that folder template on what all of those documents that you need to get the project done. Um, so that’s folder templates. And then another one is, well, another one. And the last one is number seven. So profit first. So this is not an overall automation, but it feels like it because it forces Well, you don’t really have to think about it. And this is just kind of talking about the business. So with profit first is a book that I read, I forgot to author, but it was a really good strategy to make sure or force your company to be profitable. And with that you have five different bank accounts. At minimum, I believe, I’m sorry. So you have five different bank accounts. So the first one is the income account. So a lot of business owners, they only have like one or two or three bank accounts, which is super practical. But for me, I remember personal Sorry, I remember probably three or four years ago, me and my wife. We only had like one bank account a joint bank account, which was fine, but you Did it wasn’t the best because I didn’t know how much money we had to spend. So of course, you have obligations like rent and all of these other things, expenses that comes with 11. Period. Yeah. So you have the necessities, and then you have what we call play money in a sense. So with that, I didn’t know how much play money we had. So I was like, How much money do we really have, after the 15th, or after the 17th, when all of these necessities kind of come out. So I was tough on me, I’m okay with money, but I’m just not really no one was just like in. So we implemented a two, well, three bank accounts. So we have the personal account, we have the bill account, and then we have savings. So pretty much having like 70% of all our our income, go to the bill account 30% to, well, 20% to the personal, which is just kind of like fun money that we can have fun with or we can pay off debt, which is just not earmarked for pretty much anything, then 10% to savings. So with that we have a as soon as we get a check, we go ahead and separate it into these different accounts, or these buckets. So we know what we have, and we’re good on bills and stuff like that. So that’s pretty much the same for profit first, almost. But um, you have different accounts. So you have the income account, which is common, like the account where you test checks, or you deposit checks. And then like on a 15, or once a month or twice a month on the 15th and the 30th, you go ahead and push it to different bank accounts. So one is the profit one. So you always put profit first. And then you have to tax account because of course Uncle Sam has to get paid. And then you have operating. And then which is just the operating expenses for the business. But then then you have compensation or owners comp or just compensation, I use it as compensation for everybody and wages and stuff like that. So with that, it’s a certain percentage that you allocate to these different accounts. So you know exactly how much you have to spend, you know, if you can afford to hire someone, or you can afford this equipment purchase, because it comes from these segmented accounts. And it also helps because you don’t have this one account where you have, like, a big amount of money. And it’s not, you don’t really account for things that’s going to happen throughout the month, um, such as payroll, and purchasing love equipment and stuff like that. So that’s a really good, quote unquote, automation that we use here to keep keep things afloat, and also pace ourselves for those months, that revenue is kind of low, and then also the months where it’s high. And we still have those same allocations. So when it is low, we can go to those individual accounts. Yeah, that’s pretty much it as far as this one to seven automations that can help your business be sustainable and grow. Oh, yeah, you want to add anything like?

Michael McCrary 28:33
Yeah, I was gonna actually did you mention the automation for form data to

Sidney Jackson 28:38
Google Sheet? We did not.

Michael McCrary 28:41
Alright, so it looks like there might be an eighth automation. So one of the biggest automations that I find that we use internally, it’s a client thing as well. It’s just a pretty useful thing when you think about it. As previously mentioned earlier, when a customer clicks, send on their data, you know, and they they’re trying to sign up for your newsletter or whatever. You have to be the one to figure out where that data goes and how you are able to see it. You can’t you’re not just gonna be able to see it. So Zapier and just different all this isn’t a Zapier only thing. It just happens to be a very easily integrated with Zapier thing,

Sidney Jackson 29:17
and we’re not sponsored by Zapier, Zoho CRM or anybody yet.

Michael McCrary 29:25
So they’re these things. And you mentioned web hooks, right? Yes. Alright, so web hooks are super cool. I had to do a little bit of research into them for this and learn a little bit more about like how long they like they’ve been around for a little bit. They’re kind of a new thing. You know, it’s, I think of it as like, I mean, like to be kind of on the nose about it. I think of it like a guy who’s throwing out a shot, and he’s throwing out the hook. It’s Oh noon, and then only, you know, for the sake of metaphor, the hook is the data basically, or a request to say, Hey, I’m trying to send this data for an automated So the data from the website can be sent to wherever to work, it’s more tangible with you and whatever you need to do with it. So with Zapier, and of course, you know, like with Elementor, and WordPress, that’s just you know, a website plug in customization plugin with WordPress to customize it, but it does have a really good integration for allowing for web hooks with Zapier specifically. But how web hooks kind of work is there’s usually like a couple of things you have to copy or like some kind of like ID key or something like that. And you link your website, you know, your website’s UI API with the integrated webhook that’s been sent out with Zapier, and of course, as you’re doing with that through your testing, and making sure that it’s all caught, but you know, that’s like, setting it up with your website to catch things. It’s like the fish biting onto the hook. And it’s like, Okay, I got your data now. So now of course, you’ve gotten the data. You’ve got it hooked, Zapier has it. Okay, it’s all good. But now what do you want to do with it? Yep. And of course, from there, with Zapier, you can do a lot of different things. But yeah, you can create new contacts, you can create, you know, new events, you can do all kinds of stuff. But really the most practical one, and the one that I find myself building off of a lot lately, is just taking that data and putting it into like a Google Doc, or a Google Sheet. I use Google Sheets more myself, because when it comes to data like that, I like to be able to map like rows and cells and like have it all a little bit more organized. I like spreadsheets, so But of course, you can do it with a Google doc or really whatever, you know, as long as Zapier, whatever allows it, however you want to do it. So you set it up, with Zapier, to, at that point with the data, push it to a Google Sheet, and you can go in, you can take actually like go into the fields that they’ve taken and say, Okay, take this field that’s pulled from the web hook, and put it into this sheet, this worksheet this, this cell, this, this column. And it will like you can sit there and do the whole, like after your automation is complete. I’ve done it where you know, I have the Google Sheet open, and then the website open, and I’ll type in like a dummy test. And it’ll be like, you know, whatever. And then I’ll hit send. And then like, a second later, it’s right there in the Google Sheet, of course, which is practical, because you know, not only that, but you can push it to Zoho CRM as a contact, you can

Sidney Jackson 32:21
push it as an SMS message to notify somebody, it is definitely a lot because so looking at just like a contact form or an on a website, we have a few different ones. And it goes a few different places, right? But just talking about like overall coding. And then if then else statements and stuff like that, Zapier has that as well, where if you have a contact form, and you say a contact name for a field, you have company name, and then you have a service that they’re interested in, right. So if you have like website versus automation versus social media management, so if they click on social media management, and then a web hook gets shot to Zapier, you can go ahead and push that all of that information, all of those fields on a contact form directly to a Google Sheet. And then on top of that, after you push that, inside of that same Zapier, they call it zaps. You can go ahead and set up something different. So you can push that information to a client relationship management program, you can go ahead and send a text message or automated text message to the customer. And then you can also filter it. So you can say, if the service interested, equal social media, go ahead and send an email to our social media manager. Or if it says on website design, you can go ahead and send the email to our website designer. And then I mean, it’s, it gets complex extremely quickly. So having a strategy upfront is super important, saying hey, what do we what does our workflow actually look like? And how does automation help that?

Michael McCrary 34:09
Yeah, absolutely. Knowing the scale and knowing what needs to be automated, and yeah, all that’s important,

Sidney Jackson 34:15
indeed. So thank you guys for coming to the auction network. This was a extremely informative podcast, and I hope you guys enjoyed it. definitely reach out to us. If you need any help with automation, or you have expert expertise in automation, or anything dealing with business, we would love to just kind of have you guys on and talk about different things that can help business owners grow and sustain themselves. All right, awesome. Awesome. Thank you guys for coming. Thank you.