Welcome back to part 4 of PaySimple’s series, Why Small Businesses Should Use Google Apps.
Our first post focused on using Gmail as your email provider, the second post was all about Google Drive’s ability to simplify document management, and last week’s post was on getting a free phone number using Google Voice. Today I’m covering the scheduling power of Google calendar.
I’ll be the first one to admit, Google Calendar is not the most exciting Google Apps feature; it doesn’t hold a candle to Voice or Drive. However, it still serves a very important purpose for something we at PaySimple are passionate about: time management.
I’ll save you the trouble of describing how a calendar app works; Google Calendar covers the basic functionality of Outlook’s calendar, plus a few perks:
1. Google Maps Integration
For service-based businesses, time is of the essence. If you’ve got workers driving to job sites, you want to make sure they get there on time, if not earlier. Because they’re both Google products, you can put a client address into a Calendar event and your employees can click the address and instantly get Google Maps directions to the job-site. It saves time and might prevent you from having to drive around the block 3 times looking for the address.
2. Keep Track of Employees
We here at PaySimple provide merchant accounts for small businesses that provide services (as opposed to selling goods). Many of these companies have employees that are job-based and the owner or manager directs them to a job site. On Monday, it could be doing retaining wall work for one client, and the next day is a lawn-mowing gig across town. Using Google Calendar, the manager can keep track of all the employees’ job locations.
3. Business Reminders
For my personal business, I offer two-week free trials to my clients. Once a free trial is started, I need to email that person in 13 days to remind them that his or her free trial is ending the following day. Using Google Calendar, I’m able to set a reminder for the call. You can also use these reminders to keep track of the sales call process, check on the status of auto-recurring payments or even when to make all follow-ups.
4. GMail Integration
I tend to make all my phone appointments using email. One of the coolest features is that Gmail can find “meeting requests” in your inbox and asks you if you want to add it to your calendar. So, if someone says, “Can we schedule a call for Friday at 11am?” Gmail will ask if you want to add an appointment at that time. So cool!
5. Cross-Program Integration
Though there are many competitors out there, Outlook still reigns supreme as the most popular calendar client for large companies. Luckily for small business owners using Google Apps, Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar are perfectly compatible. You can send an Outlook calendar invite to Google Calendar and it syncs up perfectly. No need to worry about scheduling conflicts due to calendar-sync errors.
6. Telecommuting Schedule Sharing
Sales reps are a roaming breed and true road warriors. Have your sales reps upload their weekly sales schedules into your ‘Sales Calendar’ so that you can keep track of where they’re at, who they’re selling to, and any other relevant information.
7. Upload Outside Calendars
I’ll have to thank my manager for letting me in on this little secret. It’s not really business-oriented, but word has it, you can upload outside calendars into Google Apps. Say you happen to be a diehard Broncos fan, like most PaySimple employees, you can upload the Broncos schedule directly into your Google Calendar. If they happen to be playing a Thursday night game in November, you can make sure you don’t schedule a business dinner on that date.
If you aren’t using Google Calendar, I suggest trying It out. It will help you take control of your work day and be more productive!
Come back next week for the final installment of our Google Apps series. We’ll be focusing on Google Hangouts, the newest way to hold online meetings.