Managing a travel practice is tough work. You’re in charge of all the details, from sales to marketing to hiring to firing to budgeting to supplier selection. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re keeping tabs on a million different details. The good news is that there are ways to simplify and make managing your business easier no matter how big or small you may be.
Automate Your Operation
The adage is true – time is money. It’s especially true if you are solo and you have a limited amount of time to deal with all the day-to-day operations.
Make every minute count by taking advantage of automation to increase your efficiency. You can use apps and programs to record sales, track your groups, manage your back office, and more. Productivity apps can automate your to-do list, making it easier to keep track of urgent tasks and plan out your busy days. For projects, I love the mind mapping apps to keep me focused. There are tons of apps and programs designed with small business management in mind, so you can choose the ones that are right for your practice.
Keeping track of all of the information that makes your business run by hand takes forever, but automation can make it quick and easy and frees up your time for the tasks that need a human touch. Some of this automation costs money up front, so you’ll need to weight the cost against the amount of time you expect to save down the road. Other types of automation, such as setting up automatic bill pay through your bank, are free and a no brainer in my book.
Keep Up With The Technology Your Customers Expect
These days, customers and clients expect all businesses to embrace current technology to make their consumer experience better, faster, and cheaper. We all carry smartphones and we expect to be able to connect with the businesses we love online and in apps.
Part of small business management is making sure your brand appeals to your customers. That means keeping up a high-quality website and offering the same level of technology as your competitors in order to keep your customers happy. For example, can your customers make appointments online? How about accessing their bookings remotely? I suggest talking to your customers and asking them what would make their experience easier—focus on the convenience. I bet you might get a few surprises.
You’ll also need to keep track of the technology developments within the industry. Are there new developments that will help you take better care of your customers? As your colleagues (or frenemies) what they are using.
Small business management isn’t just about you and the business – it’s also about managing your employees (if you have them) and your time effectively. This is your business and you may feel reluctant to let other people take over running any part of it, but knowing when to delegate can save you time and headaches.
If you have regular employees, you can train them to do things that normally would fall on you. I know one agency did this and empowered their employees to the point where the employees actually bought the agency when the owner retired. If not, look to hire a for projects that require time, labor, or expertise that you don’t have. You think I build my own websites—pfft!
Never Forget Your Budget
A budget is a necessary tool for you to see your expenses and revenues and to insure you have enough capital to be financially healthy. No matter how busy things get, you’ll always need to be mindful of your business’s financial status to make sure you’re in a safe and stable position.
Remember that your budget is a living and breathing thing. As your business needs grow and change, you’ll want to reevaluate your budget and make any necessary adjustments. What happens when the Ultimate Consumer Travel Show decides to exhibit in your hometown and you HAVE to be there as a vendor? Experts recommend a monthly review of your budget to stay on track; and so do I. But I rarely listen to myself…I review it quarterly!
Set Growth Goals
Much of our management tasks are focused on the day-to-day operation of the travel practice. However, don’t let that daily grind overshadow your long-term goals for growth.
The best way to keep an eye on the big picture is to set concrete, quantifiable, long term goals and check in regularly to make sure you’re heading in that direction. Your goals may be transactions completed, average earnings per booking, new client acquisition, percentage of preferred supplier support, or some other metric. Maybe you want to open a second location or develop a new specialty – highlight the steps needed and be sure to check back to make sure you are moving the needle forward and bot backwards!
Managing a small business involves wearing many hats and keeping your focus on many different tasks. Take some of these tips and modify them to suit your own agency. One size does not fit all! And if you have some tips of your own..we’re all ears. Please leave a comment!