The learning curve on most new technology takes just a little time for me, and I guess this is why they call my model the BlackBerry Curve. But it's been worth the investment.
With the Wi-Fi feature, I now have much easier Internet access on assignments. Before, I was relying on my laptop and cell phone to connect. It has worked pretty well for the past seven years, but the time it takes to turn on a laptop and hook up to the Internet to check messages can be easily 10 minutes. Now, I can glance at the e-mails as they come in as I work, and when I take a break can easily respond to my messages.
It synchronizes with my Outlook, so my calendar and contacts are with me all the time. My Outlook calendar, in turn, synchronizes with another tool that has become indispensible to me -- Google Calendar.
Out with the Old, In with Google Calendar
"Honey can you send me an updated calendar?" was one of my wife's frequent refrains. Sending her my calendar not only helped me with our family plans, but also helped her to answer client questions when I was out. To accommodate her, I would go into Outlook, print my calendar to a PDF, and then e-mail her a copy. This system worked well enough -- until the business became so successful that I needed to update the calendar more than once a day for her.
I realized I needed a better solution. And since the solution for just about every problem I encounter is to Google it, that's what I did. I Googled and found Google Calendar.
Google Calendar synchs with Outlook every five minutes, once a day, or as often as you need it to. With the calendar, you can set up what I like to call visibility layers. You can let the world see every detail of your calendar, parts of the calendar, or nothing at all. You can invite people to have the ability to edit your calendar as well.
I chose to add my wife and let her have the ability to make changes. Sometimes I am on the road for a few days, and she needs to let my clients know what I have open and reserve a date. I also gave my uncle rights to see the details, since he has been assisting me on many of my photo shoots.
Sharing Your Schedule to Increase Bookings
As for the rest of the world (especially my clients), I decided to let them know when I was free and when I was busy. So I added my Google Calendar to my Web site. Google gives you the html code, so it's easy. You can customize whether the day, week, month or agenda is the default page, as well as the colors and look of the calendar.
Adding this tool to my Web site has not only improved my business's efficiency; it has also helped me increase bookings.
For most of my career, I've banged my head against the wall trying to convince clients to plan ahead -- so, for example, we can take advantage of the time of year (like spring or fall) to show off the landscaping of their business. Until I had Google Calendar, I really believe most everyone thought I was blowing a lot of smoke and just trying to book myself.
In the past, clients would contact me and I would give them the dates I had open, and they typically would take their time and come back to me later -- only to find some or all of their times had been given away to someone else who was ready to commit.
Since adding Google Calendar to my site several weeks ago, I have had people commit to dates and times right away. They have already checked my availability, and when they contact me are ready to book. (You can see my calendar on the left navigation at StanleyLeary.com.)
By the way, I no longer have to send a copy of my calendar to my wife; she is better informed than ever before. Maybe this can help you as well.