Just because a business is small doesn’t mean that its business integration and automation needs aren’t as complex – and as challenging – as a large businesses. In fact, as a small business owner, I often face additional challenges, such as smaller budgets and lower tolerance for long deployment times, tinkering and mistakes.

That describes life atKlapprodt Pools, our 25-person pool design and building firm serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We design and build up to 120 pools a year, maintain 200 pools weekly, and make an additional 150 to 200 service calls each month. Not surprisingly, keeping all the details straight can be daunting.

To efficiently deliver customer service that lives up to our reputation, we invested in a custom-built, end-to-end business automation solution that runs on Mac, Windows and iPad using the FileMaker Platform. The solution integrates all the company’s business processes, from design to maintenance and organizes all customer information (pool design, invoicing, location, and maintenance) into one single location.

We achieved return on investment within months, and our business is growing efficiently and profitably. Best of all, customer satisfaction is at an all-time high.

How did a small business like ours achieve this level of efficiency and sophistication of business automation, to the delight of customers?  Here are five things you can try that worked well for us:

1) Get rid of those multiple, ad hoc IT systems acquired over time (both in-house and outsourced), which will isolate your data – and take a clean-sweep approach toward consolidation. It’s now or never.

2) Take an uncompromising approach to making data available anywhere, anytime – the devil is in the details (data) when it comes to efficiency and customer service.

3) Use mobile aggressively to eliminate steps, save time, reduce data-entry errors, improve collaboration and boost productivity of employees.

4) Remove paper from business operations – and be relentless about it.

5) Don’t go it alone. While we worked with developer Pool Pro Office to get a custom-built solution that met our exact needs, there are many developers that specialize in such industry-specific solutions. Google it!

The solution paid for itself in a few short months, based only on the savings from the recurring payments that are no longer being made on the company’s outsourced lead and service management systems. This translates into tens of thousands in savings annually that can be funneled into a growing business – one that makes us more capable of building and maintaining more pools.

Jeremy Klapprodt is the co-owner of Klapprodt Pools in Keller, Texas.