Without a doubt, emails are one of the biggest time-wasters for practice owners
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of just having a ‘quick check’ of your inbox, then 3 hours and 147 emails later, you’re still stuck in your inbox.
Not only that, clients just love to send query after query into your inbox, intruding on your day and making you much less productive.
As the practice owner, your job is to become a leader of the business.
And part of becoming a leader involves letting as much go as possible and delegating to others.
So here are 2 methods to reduce your time spent in your inbox, so you can spend more time on your business:
(Please note – both of these methods will make you feel incredibly uncomfortable at first, but it’s vitally important and part of the process of you becoming a leader and a business owner)
1. Centralise all email communications
This one is really simple to do, and can reduce the number of people taking up space in your inbox.
You’ll want to set up a centralised email address for your practice and then set an autoresponder up on your personal email that looks something like this:
<name of practice> is centralising and monitoring email communication to improve efficiency and continuity. We would therefore ask if clients can please email <centralised email address> for all day to day communications. That way the most appropriate person can attend to your email first hand. We appreciate your cooperation.
Then you just need to find somebody who can be responsible for monitoring the inbox, dealing with queries and forwarding emails on to necessary people.
The idea is that only very few actually get forwarded on to you!
2. Have somebody manage your emails for you
Here are 2 examples of my clients doing exactly this…
Mark used to receive hundreds of emails each day and it used to take up a ridiculous amount of his time going through and responding to them.
Lucky for him, he had somebody he could trust, his office manager Sharon, who could manage his inbox for him.
So, we set up a new private email for Mark that was only handed out to a select few people, and Sharon took over his main account.
She now deals with about 90% of his emails by either forwarding to somebody who can deal with it, or by responding herself saying “Mark is incredibly busy right now, but you are very important to him and he’s asked me to deal with your query on his behalf”.
In Bens case, it wasn’t so straight forward…
When asked who he could trust to manage his inbox, he gave me the standard response, “but Rudi, there are lots of sensitive emails that I wouldn’t want my staff to know about, emails from my partners discussing staff and salaries etc”
Of course, this is true, but is there anybody in your team that you trust enough? That if you sat down with them and told them that you were going to put them into a role where you would be placing an enormous amount of trust in them, would they be up for it and rise to the challenge?
The reality is that when you have an A+ team around you, there is normally someone like this. And if not, then you do not actually have an A+ team around you.
So, Ben decided that he did have such a lady on his team: Jean.
But she was a reception/admin person, so there were loads of emails she would have no idea how to handle. But he did trust her that should she see sensitive emails, she’d be able to treat it as sensitive information.
Great. Next question. ‘Who on your team could you trust to deal with non-sensitive emails for you?’
After a bit of thinking, Ben decided that Jess was a team leader and she knew enough about the work as well as about the business that she would be able to deal with that.
So, it was arranged that going forwards Jean would have access to Ben’s inbox. About 10% of the emails she could deal with directly. About 70% of the emails she could pass onto Jess to deal with. And the remaining 20%, that only Ben could deal with, she’d forward onto him.
Ben had to sit with Jess and look at some of the work she was doing. After some thinking, Ben identified a few of her lower-level tasks that could be handed over to another team member which freed up the necessary time in Jess’s diary to deal with Ben’s bulk of his emails.
We set up a new email address which Ben guarded with his life and only handed out to his partners and a few other very select people.
As a further example of delegating to trustworthy team members that can handle sensitive information, my PA is very trustworthy — and she is based in the Philippines. All my emails get scanned by her first, and only emails that she cannot deal with will end up in my inbox.
The 3 T’s
Over the years working with clients I’ve found that getting this right ultimately comes down to 3 things:
- Trust – you need to be able to trust somebody to do it. If you don’t properly trust them, you’ll still try to get involved and that defeats the purpose.
- Training – sometimes when you can deal with a query and your team can’t, it’s a training issue. Keep training your team so that they can step up and deal with some of the higher-level queries.
- Time – you have to give this time to work. The first few weeks are the ‘puppy training’ period. You’ll want to throw the towel in, but you can’t. You have to keep going until you get it right.
Once you get these 3 things right, and use the examples I highlighted above, you should dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend in your inbox, so that you can spend even more time on developing your practice and delivering value to clients.
Who currently has a strategy for delegating their inbox to others? I’d love to know what other approaches people are using…