Zapier is a tool used to connect applications together. It is the Swiss Army Knife of automation. David went to the most thriving Facebook groups to find the best resources for Zapier to ask a few questions. He found Brian Clare, the not-so-hidden Zapier guru in the accounting space. Brian is the co-founder and CEO of Blueprint Accounting and has agreed to speak with us about the top Zapier-based automations, or Zaps, that you need to investigate for your business.
- About Blueprint
- What Is Zapier?
- 5 Automations Brian Can’t Live Without
- Start Automating Your Workflow With Zapier
- 3x Your Clientele With One Sentence
- Remote Tactics Your Firm Needs Today, Next Week, and In a Month
- Why You Need to Start Niching This Year For Riches Three Years From Now
Blueprint Accounting operates out of Ottawa, Ontario and provides bookkeeping, virtual CFO, and controller-type of work. From “Zapier for Beginners” to advanced knowledge of the app, Brian has integrated Zapier into his firm, which allowed Blueprint to offer automation services.
The service involves piecing apps together for automation, figuring out a workflow with the client, and discovering where businesses can use their newly built automation to work more efficiently for them.
Their services are especially useful in our current climate where businesses have had to adapt to remote work. Just like our previous guest, Liam McIvor Martin, Brian says that the top challenge facing businesses as they shift to remote work is communication, but business owners can whip up unique solutions in various apps like Slack or Zoom to enhance communication processes using Zapier.
What is Zapier?
Zapier is a tool that links apps together that couldn't otherwise be directly integrated. Zapier uses an “if this, then that, then that” method of logic, or Boolean statements. Some of the simplest “Zaps” are repeatable tasks, like a reminder you send to yourself.
For example, one of Brian’s Zaps is useful for when a teammate messages him and he can't answer right away. He will star a message in Slack, and this will trigger Zapier to create a related task in Asana.
Brian is always looking for ways to automate his processes using Zapier so he can focus on more high-value tasks. He looks at what apps are being used within a workflow to figure out how they can be connected and how information can be passed from one app to another. With this mindset, Brian has developed extensive Zaps, and we can gain insight into the automations he finds most valuable.
5 Automations Brian Can’t Live Without
We asked Brian to imagine a world without Zapier. Which 5 Zaps would he miss the most? After he reoriented himself from imagining how his workload would increase without Zapier, he gave us a list of 5 Zaps that he absolutely could not live without.
1. Onboarding Zaps
Brian’s onboarding Zaps previously had about 62 steps before he downsized it. Using Zapier is perfect for tackling the onboarding process because there are so many tasks that are repeatable: The same welcome emails will be sent to every client. Brian gives an example of how you could create a Zap out of this process. Depending on the service the client selects, the Zap may go down a different path with clients getting added to specific lists, having their contact updated, being added to a drip campaign in ActiveCampaign. This will send between 3-5 emails over a week.
2. Reminder Zaps
In a similar vein, Brian explains that there are some reminders sent out every month to nudge clients to send necessary documents like bank statements. This is actually created as a separate campaign to ensure that the right people receive the email.
One of the most helpful aspects of this kind of Zap is that Brian can see if clients are clicking on a link and opening the email. If they're not, then he can follow up with them and make sure that clients are following the request.
3. Metric Management Zaps
Blueprint has a plethora of zaps operating in the background, grabbing information from QuickBooks, or ActiveCampaign data. Using Zapier, the information is sent to either a Google Sheet or an Excel spreadsheet. This way, Blueprint can crunch data quickly at the end of the month when it's time to make reports.
In a previous podcast, we talk about the importance of finding the balance between deep listening and not getting lost in technical expertise. Adequate data management using Zapier can help accomplish both while also connecting you with your client.
4. Client-Specific Zaps
Brian identified invoice-related, client-specific Zaps that he uses frequently to address the kind of currency that clients use to pay for their services. He explains further that his team works on Slack, with a channel for every client. An invoice comes into QBO, which is what the clients use. Next, he’ll look for the corresponding Slack channel based on the notification to the team member. Brian has set up some Zaps just to grab USD invoices and notify him and his team to update them when needed.
5. Business Card Zaps
Admittedly, using Zapier for business cards came as a surprise, but Brian the Zapier Guru gave a thorough explanation. He said that he doesn’t carry business cards. Instead, he throws his prospective client off-kilter by giving them his cellphone to let the client enter their information.
He set up a Zap where someone completes a Typeform. Zapier takes all of that information, puts it into ActiveCampaign as a contact, and then sends the lead an email with all of his information automatically.
Start Automating Your Workflow With Zapier
If you have niched your firm's services, Zapier can help you to focus on the important work while automating routine, repetitive tasks.
Brian recommends checking out Zapier’s help resources to get started with Zaps in your firm. Zapier has one of the best help sections on any app. If you look for Google, Gmail, G suite, Microsoft 365, and other software in Zapier’s search function, you’ll find a ton of articles about all these apps.
Brian also recommends Zapier’s explore section. People new to Zapier can pick however many apps they want, and Zapier’s results will give suggestions on how you can link them together.
Want to learn more about Zapier? Listen to the full episode and connect with Brian on Twitter @blueprintbrian.