This “To-Go Box” Method Saves Us Tons of Time & Energy With Clients

I was eating at my favorite restaurant the other day (Harlow here in Portland!) when I looked across the room and noticed something brilliant.

It’s something I’ve seen about a hundred or so times before, and didn’t really think much of it.

But when I looked at it the other day, I had a huge “Aha!” moment. It was genius.

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Now after all this build-up, please don’t laugh at me when I told you what I saw.

What did I see?

A stack of to-go boxes.

“Wow… Genius, David… To go boxes… So glad I’m reading this article right now…”

Hold your horses! Hear me out…

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Harlow has a station over in the corner where you can pour yourself a glass of water.

Above the water station is a shelf where to-go boxes are stacked.

(It’s the kind of restaurant where you order at the counter, then they bring your food out and that ends the service. You don’t have a waiter or anything.)

Here’s why this is genius, and how mastering this concept is going to save you tons of time and energy with your customers:

How many times do you think Harlow was asked, “Hey, can I get a to go box please?” before they implemented this system?

Hundreds? Thousands?

How many combined hours did their staff spend stopping what they were doing to go fetch a box for a customer?

Now, think of how much time they’re saving by just putting up a new stack every week or so.

Think of how much energy they’re saving.

Suddenly, those to go boxes are pretty brilliant, right?

That’s because they’re just one example of a system Harlow implemented to free their staff up to focus on their most important jobs.

The key to saving your own time and energy

The key to saving your own time and energy is to look for “to go box” opportunities in your own business.

The goal is to eliminate as much of the “clutter” that stands between you and your core strengths.

The more of that you free up, the more time and energy you have to focus on what you’re most passionate and competent at.

Here are a few we’ve implemented at our company Reliable PSD:

Moving client interactions over to our project management software

When clients had changes in the past, they’d send them over to us, then we’d insert them into our project management software and tag everyone who’s necessary.

But by moving client interactions over to our software, we developed a new system:

The clients simply create a checklist of all the changes right there.

This is awesome for them because creating a checklist feels much more concrete and accountable than emailing a list. Also – they can check on the status at any time by logging in and seeing what’s checked off.

This is awesome for our team because we’d spend literally up to hours per day copy / pasting from email and inserting into Teamwork.

Just like at my favorite restaurant, I’d much rather go and grab a box than waste time waiting for someone to grab one for me.

Both of us save time and energy.

Having pre-written snippets for proposals that we insert with an automatic text tool

By now we know the main functionality people request, so we start their proposal by inserting pre-written templates using a tool called TextExpander.

TextExpander lets you define a “shortcode” for text snippets. For example, I could do :java: and a snippet about JavaScript functionality would pop up right before my eyes.

We have TextExpander snippets for so many parts of our business. It saves time from re-writing the same things over and over.

Clients get answers and proposals quicker, and we save more time and energy to put care into the more important stuff like ensuring they’re happy.

Switching to an online browser & device testing tool

Right now, multiple team members test projects on multiple devices and browsers. This means you have to have a pool of devices and computers and it takes a lot of time to go through them all.

They then take screenshots of bugs and fixes on each device and mark them up with notes.

In recent years, online-based testing platforms have come a really long way though.

Companies now have devices hooked up to their apps so you can test on real devices from thousands of miles away – and you can take screenshots right from within the app.

We’re just now switching over to this so we can test all projects in one place and provide our team with fixes faster.

How about you?

What “to go boxes” have you added to your business? Or what areas are you struggling to figure out a good “to go box” for?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment and let’s talk.

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  1. I am all about the “to go box” idea. I also use Teamwork and have all the clients and internal team use it. I like the TextExpander snippet idea. A tool I use has that feature and then some. It’s called Proposify and it has cut my proposal writing in half. Plus it lets me know when and for how long the client has looked at my proposal. Lots of great features and flexible layout for the designer in me. I am also really big on google tools that I can add to my Gmail account such as Todoist, FreeBussy, Evernote, Grammarly, and WiseStamp. All help keep things in one place and help me get things done faster

    Question. When you said you have your clients make a check-list in Teamwork can you explain that a little more? Is that something you do in the notebook?

  2. At a former employer we built our proposals using a database template. We’d customize what was necessary and plug in snippets databased from previous proposals. The biggest headache was making sure to take all the feedback from lessons learned meetings and tweak the snippets.
    The primary point is to hone all your systems and processes in order to instill as many efficiencies as possible into every part of your business. NEVER reinvent the wheel.

  3. This idea is interesting when it comes to being a freelancer. Having some default “to go” letters or pitches can indeed save tons of time. Thank you for sharing this valuable info!

  4. Awesome article, thank you! I’m going to check out Teamwork right now since I definitely need to minimize on time spent organizing client feedback from email.

  5. Hey David,
    Great article. I use excel for my proposals and have several worksheets. The first is the cover page where I choose the components we are putting into the proposal (web design, logo design etc.). Then the second worksheet is ALL the services we offer. When I create a new proposal I simply delete the components that aren’t relevant to that specific project. The third section is the contract boilerplate. That I created as a series of .pdf pages and started them at page 3 but made copies that start at page 4, 5 etc. so however long the first two parts are I jut add the appropriate boilerplate to the excel .pdf and the proposal is finalized. It took a while to set up but is really quick to use . Now if we have a new service I just add it to the second part and it is there every time we need it. Same with price changes. we do it once and it is done. It takes me an hour or less to put together a pretty comprehensive proposal and the client also sees the pricing on all components.

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