Productivity Knowledge Base: Run a Productive Business from your Car-Office
The way we do business has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. More products and services are now being offered outside traditional premises. You no longer have to go to a bank to complete your transactions or home loan applications. Insurance brokers visit your home or office; retailers deliver products directly to your home. This change in distribution methodology has meant many of us now run a car-office.
While researching this change in business strategy, we interviewed several successful managers, executives and sales people who operate their business from their car-office. Karen Lasorda, Vice President for Corporate Business Development of Harleysville National Bank was a valuable source of information as she shared some of her winning strategies to ensure she is highly productive and able to meet her targets each month.
While there are many advantages of working from you car-office including flexibility, being truly accessible to your clients and being able to conduct multiple appointments in one day, a number of challenges were highlighted. These included:
If you find yourself in a car-office apply these tips to overcome these challenges and boost your productivity today:
Be self-motivated – this is seems like common sense but if you operate your business from your car-office you need to be highly motivated. It is easy to be distracted by shops (especially those stores having a sale!), interesting food outlets for a longer lunch, coffee or catch up with friends. You should enjoy the freedom of working from your car-office but also respect it as if you attended a traditional office.
Avoid eating in your car – don’t allow yourself to ‘eat on the run’. To be more productive you need to take adequate stretch and food breaks through the day. Enjoy your food, eat in a park, eat with a client or eat with your colleagues but avoid eating in your car. This will also help keep your car clean and smelling fresh.
Invest in an economical car – as you will be traveling many miles, ensure you have good mileage and the car is efficient. This can be a costly expense to your business if you are spending unnecessary money on your vehicle.
Use a ‘week at a glance’ calendar – this valuable tool will help you plan your week and you can place this on the front seat of your car for easy viewing. This will enable you to respond to your clients needs quickly by knowing where you will be each week.
Prepare the night before – each night allocate 10 minutes to prepare for the next days activities. Determine what customer files, promotional materials, product samples and information you may need. This valuable investment of only 10 minutes each night will ensure a smooth and productive day tomorrow.
Allow an extra 10 minutes travel time – always add this extra 10 minutes to any travel plans you may have. If you think it will take you 20 minutes, allocate 30 minutes. This extra 10 minutes will be helpful if you have difficulty finding somewhere, encounter extra traffic or getting a parking space. This extra time allows you to arrive organized and not rushed. No one enjoys being late, always make a great impression with every appointment by arriving on time and feeling calm.
Keep a well-equipped glove compartment – have a good supply of items you may need on the road. This could include also pharmaceutical needs for headaches, minor scratches, tissues, throat lozenges and vitamins.
Keep a supply of stationary in your car – this includes spare notepads, blank paper, stamps, envelopes and thank you cards. Thank you cards allow you to quickly write a note to a new client and post the same day you have done business! This is a powerful way to be remembered by your clients.
Stock up on Business Cards – keep a good supply of business cards, brochures and letterhead in your car-office - you never know when you might find a new client or potential business opportunity.
Keep your trunk tidy – don’t forget that clients may sometimes see inside your trunk. Keep this area clean and organized. Take time each month to vacuum this area of your car and remove any trash.
Keep your files in the trunk – invest in an archive box or plastic container that will store up to 20 files. This will ensure all your valuable information is keep in a safe and secure place, out of sight and well organized if you need it.
Keep an emergency box – this plastic container could include bottled water, street directory/maps, first aid kit, and small umbrella. Women may also like to include items such as spare pantyhose, nail files, sewing kits and safety pins.
Wash your car regularly – this includes inside and out. Your car-office also makes an impression with your clients. You may need to drive them somewhere or they meet you at your car-office. Always keep your car looking and smelling professional. Invest in regular car washes and clean the inside on a regular basis. If you don’t enjoy this task, consider outsourcing it; always keep your car tidy.
Carry bottled water in your car-office – we all know we should drink more water. Keep a supply of at least two bottles of water in your car so you are always hydrated and refreshed.
Find great coffee shops for meetings – seek out several locations where you can meet clients or potential customers that serve great coffee, are quiet and conducive to meetings and provide easy parking. Get to know the waiting staff and owners - develop relationships with them so they will provide exceptional service for you if you are meeting with someone in their location. You may also like to consider establishing a monthly account with them so that you don’t have any awkward moments when the check arrives at your table.
Allocate external storage space – for an effective car-office you may also want to dedicate a place within your home for additional supplies of information, files, stationary, promotional material or product samples. Keep only the required items in your car to avoid unnecessary clutter and an untidy car-office.
By applying these tips to your car-office you will be more productive, increase your sales, meet your monthly targets, and enjoy the freedom of a car-office.
Neen James is the Managing Director of eWomen Network for Philadelphia. eWomen Network is about supporting and promoting women in business. Let me connect you with other fabulous women. You can find out more at www.ewomennetwork.com
PO Box 1764, Doylestown PA 18901
More thoughts on time managementThe phrase "time management" is an unfortunate language quirk. You can't really manage time. It just is. You can't gain time, create time, or even lose time. Time is what it is, regardless of what we do. And, paradoxically, many common "time management" techniques and practices are timewasters because they divert limited resources (such as time) to the wrong things.
It would be better to say "time allocation" or "activity management" "time usage" or some other phraseology to indicate that it's not time itself you're managing but how you use the time that exists. But we'll use the common terminology here to avoid confusion.
Some things time management is not:
Some things good time management involves:
We've highlighted only some of the factors involved in good time management. We actually teach extreme time management, which is a methodology that allows you to make effective use of your time almost second nature. You don't need a complicated system. Our system puts many of the variables on autopilot, so you have more time to do what you need to do. Our system goes way beyond most other systems in results, yet is far simpler.
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