Your business is your baby, and just like any parent, you’ve got a lot going on that you have to keep track of. When 17hats burst on the scene in 2014, it looked like the answer to every small business owner & freelancer’s prayers. However, since initial marketing seemed more geared towards photographers, it turned off some other industries from checking it out, and for those who launched into a trial right away, it seemed a little overwhelming. With constant updates & feature additions, tutorial videos and a very responsive support team, 17hats is proving to be exactly what every busy-brained business owner needs to keep track of their day-to-day. We believe in 17hats so much and don’t want you to miss out on everything it can do for you, so we’re going to spend the next 3 weeks giving you a more intimate look behind the curtain of 17hats as used by an actual business. In this post, we’ll be focusing on Emails, Contacts/Projects & Lead Automation. Let’s cut the chit-chat and jump right in!
There’s no better place to start than the beginning when you’re looking at something new. Here’s a look at the Overview (Dashboard) for HilaryColleen Photography.
When setting up 17hats, the first place we recommend going is your email.
Email setup is pretty easy – head on over to My Account –> Account Settings and you’ll see the screen above. You can set up any email account including your own domain (you will just need your incoming & outgoing server settings to do so). Once your email is set up, you will start seeing emails in your Dashboard right away and once you set up Contacts & Projects, you will see emails listed with their corresponding Contact/Project right on each Contact/Project’s overview page.
Now, here’s one quick thing to note: 17hats doesn’t currently have the capabilities to have any emails you send from within the 17hats application show up in your Sent folders within your email provider unless your email is based on Gmail. This feature is on the way, but in the meantime, we recommend checking the BCC box in your email settings so that you are BCCed on all emails sent from you within 17hats. Some folks choose to only use the 17hats outgoing email for Quotes, Contracts, Invoices and other automated emails (all of which we will talk about later in this post and this series) and keep their regular communications straight from their regular inboxes – it’s completely up to you!
With your email set up, you’re going to need Contacts for your emails to attach to for tracking (otherwise, the emails will come in but won’t be associated with any particular person).
You can easily add Contacts by import (via vCard, CSV or LDIF), by Lead Capture (which we will get to later in this post) or by adding manually. You can create a new Contact as an existing Client, Hot Lead, Cold Prospect or Other Contact, and you can choose to have anything associated with this Contact show up as the Company name just by checking the box at the top. Be sure to enter an email address so that incoming emails are associated with that Contact and show up on their listing. You will be able to add much more information after creating the initial Contact sheet (additional email addresses & phone numbers, website, address, social networking IDs). The best news is that when we get to the Leads bit of this post, you’ll see how to get new Leads to create their own Contacts automatically.
Contacts get even better when you add Projects to them. If you’re a wedding photographer, your projects might be a Wedding, Engagement, Album, etc. You can have multiple projects going for one client which is super helpful when it comes time to keep track of everything going on with each different project’s process.
When adding a new Project, you can include the overall budget, tags (which show up on your Project dashboard and are great for project types or, in the case we are using, photography packages), the date the project is due, and the location (if applicable).
While you’re taking a peek at these screenshots, we thought we’d explain a little about choosing different Calendars in 17hats. You can have multiple calendars and can choose to have some synced with Google and others not – entirely up to you. Each calendar can have its own color to help keep you visually organized when you’re looking at your calendar.
For example, HilaryColleen Photography has 3 different calendars: Prospectives, Clients & Notes. When a new lead comes in, the Lead Project is added to the Prospectives calendar in a light grey to show that it is tentative. Once that Lead turns into a Client, the calendar is automatically changed over to the Clients calendar which is teal. Any to-do items, document receipts, automated actions & other notes are all part of the Notes calendar which shows up in blue. The best part? These color selections and changes are all automatic once we set up Workflows & Lifecycles. Prepare for your world to be continually rocked by this software, my friend.
Once created, you’ll be able to start sending out Quotes, Contracts, Invoices, Time Logs, etc. and have it all kept track within that Project. You’ll also be able to add Workflows & Lifecycles (which we will get to in Part 3 of this series) that you can view the progress on right from the Projects list.
Earlier we mentioned that there’s an automated way to have new Leads & Contacts entered into 17hats and we’re about to show you that magic!
Keeping track of your Leads in one place is amazing in 17hats – entering them is just as easy. You can enter new Leads manually (just like entering a new Contact, only straight from the Leads panel), or you can use some of the automation tools such as Lead Capture.
There are two amazing ways to have new Lead contacts automatically added to your system: Lead Capture by Email and Lead Capture Forms. For those who use sites like The Knot, Wedding Wire or Show It Fast, you can setup 17hats to automatically create new Leads for any incoming emails from that site via Lead Capture by Email – and yes, it knows the difference between newsletter emails and a lead from those sites. If you’re looking for a way to get those new leads from your website or Facebook to automatically be created in 17hats, Lead Capture Forms are so for you, and we’re going to look at those more in-depth since there’s so much meat to them!
Here’s a look at one of the Lead Capture Forms used by HilaryColleen Photography. Feel free to create as many or as few form fields as you’d like and you can “map” them – or connect them – to correspond with specific fields on a new Contact sheet. If you look at the screenshot above, you can see some of the fields are mapped to specific fields for a new Contact. The field types available for a Lead Capture Form are:
Lead Capture is the best thing to happen to new inquiry management – seriously. For Lead Capture by Email, you can receive text message notifications when a new Lead comes in (since you are already receiving an email), and for Lead Capture Forms, you can receive text and/or email notifications. You can customize the message(s) received after the form is completed and you can also choose to have an automatic email response to newly received Leads from either method.
Wowsers – that’s a lot of information and a lot of screenshots, but we’re just getting started! We hope this deeper look inside 17hats has been helpful, insightful & educational for you thus far. Now that you know how Email, Contacts, Projects & Leads work, we can’t wait to show you how to create, customize & automate important documents like Quotes, Contracts, Questionnaires & Invoices in Part 2 next week and then connecting everything together in the perfect automated tracking system with Workflows & Lifecycles in Part 3!