+44 203 287 0899 info@solvaa.co.uk
A man typing on the laptop with floating email icons
We love sharing customer automation success stories with you because it shows how other businesses are using Zapier, and how a sprinkle of Kelly’s wisdom can be a total game-changer.

Summerley Recruitment is a busy recruitment agency which spends the winter months signing up students to work at major events and festivals throughout the summer season. They get leads from university job fairs and digital marketing and then nurture candidates through the onboarding process, which includes getting two references.

Sam Hickman standing against a brick wall wearing a Summerley Recruitment jacket
As you can imagine, chasing referees can be extremely time consuming so MD Sam Hickman asked his team to see if they could think of a way of automating it. Sam already uses Zapier in the business with some simple automations, for example sending him an SMS when a candidate fills in a Cognito Forms input form. He does this at university job fairs to confirm that the student’s data has been successfully received so that they can move to the next stage of the recruitment process.


Requirements for a series of email chases

Each candidate is required to provide two referees, giving the Summerley team their name and email address so that the administrators can request the information needed.

Sam’s requirements were to send referees a chaser every five days to follow up with them and stop chasing when the information was received. There would be three chasers in total, after which the administrator needed to follow up with a phone call to try and get the reference.


Automating email chasers isn’t as easy as you’d think!

Although sending emails is a relatively simple automation requirement, sending them over a prescribed time period and stopping when certain criteria are met doesn’t seem to be as simple as you’d think.

The Summerley team used Google at first, to try and find examples of automations to do email chasing, and as they use Microsoft Office they initially tried MS Power Automate. They found some sample code on a website which seemed to do the trick but when the first chaser triggered it sent multiple emails to each recipient, some receiving more than ten asking for the same information! There was obviously a bug in the logic they’d configured but it wasn’t easy to track down. The problem with Power Automate is that it’s more suited to people with a technical background – it’s not a no-code solution and is in fact more like a ‘low-code’ platform. This is fine for developers to use, but Sam didn’t have the budget to hire one. He wanted ideally to devise a solution which his team could easily maintain.

Sam then got in touch with Solvaa to see if they could help out. Kelly was delighted to lend a hand so suggested a few ways they could satisfy their requirements using Zapier.


How to automate email chasers using Zapier

Kelly recommended using a combination of Google Sheets and Google Calendar to trigger the emails. Sam had found that using MS Excel to trigger them was a bit hit and miss but had used Google Sheets previously – and successfully – in other Zaps so was happy to use it again for this use case.

Email chasing : trigger step

The trigger for the chasing cycle was adding a new row to a Google Sheet. The data required was simple – just a unique ID for each row (assigned manually), the candidate’s name and the referee’s email address.

The process would be that the administrator would add a row to the spreadsheet for each reference required, then when it was received back, they would delete the row.

Screen print of a Zap showing the steps to trigger automatic email chasers for candidate references
The Zap is triggered when a new row was added and it created a Google Calendar event in 5 days’ time, when the first chaser needed to be sent. The event includes the ID from the row in the spreadsheet, so that the right row can be identified in future steps, for sending for each chaser.

Email chasing : action steps

A series of Zaps were configured for the action steps, one for each chase. The triggers for each one are the start of the Google Calendar event.

For Chaser 1, when the Google event starts, it first checks that the row still exists in the spreadsheet. If it doesn’t then no chase is required so the Zap can finish. If the row does exist then an email is sent via MS Outlook and the next Google Calendar event is scheduled, in 5 days’ time.

Screen print of a Zap showing the steps to send emails automatically to ask for reference information
Chasers 2 and 3 follow the same logic and are configured as separate Zaps, one per chaser.

A final Zap is configured to send the administrator an email after a final 5-day period, prompting them to call the referee and ask for the reference by phone.


Testing the Zap to create email chasers

Unlike the MS Power Automate automation, configuring the process in separate Zaps made it much easier to test each chaser in isolation. The team could adjust the 5 days between chasers to just a few minutes, to check that the logic was correct. Once they were happy they could set it to the proper time period. This reduced the risk of issues arising in a long and complex workflow which can be difficult to debug.


Using Delay After Queue to prevent bottlenecks

Kelly advised Sam’s team that if they added a lot of rows to the Google Sheet at once it might cause a bottleneck, and Zapier might stop processing them. To avoid this happening Kelly suggested using a Delay After Queue step, to create an enforced gap between each one. As it turned out, Sam’s admin team wouldn’t be adding dozens of rows at a time so the delay step wasn’t necessary, but this was good to have up their sleeve if numbers increase in the future.


A successful partnership

Sam was delighted with the outcome and really appreciated Solvaa’s help with automating email chasers. He said “Working with Kelly gave us the confidence we needed to automate our process using Zapier. It was so helpful having her to guide us, and our admin team are delighted that they don’t have to send these emails manually! We can’t wait to automate more of our processes using Zapier, to save even more time in our day.”

Reduce your overwhelm with our automation training programme

And finally, if you’re really keen to reduce your overwhelmand  transform your business using automation, then visit the Solvaa Automation Academy. Our signature training programme, ‘Simple Automation Blueprint: Zero to Hero’ is aimed at anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of business process automation from the experts – a sure-fire way to recession-proof your business.

It’s an 8-week blended learning course with on-demand videos, templates, resources and weekly group coaching sessions. And it’s more than just a Zapier course (although we do show you how to use Zapier like a pro) as you’ll learn about Process Mapping, Business Process Improvement and Business Process Management too – principles that can be applied to other areas of business too!

Whether you are a complete novice or have been using Zapier for a while, our programme is for you. It’s perfect for individuals and teams in micro, small and medium-sized businesses, including solopreneurs, consultants and freelancers. You’ll have access to our experts and can participate in live calls where you can ask all your burning questions, as well as hands-on workshops to keep you on track with implementing your new skills. We run regular cohorts so there will be an opportunity for everyone to participate.

Our head trainer, Kelly Goss, is a specialist in business systems, process improvement and automation, and one of less than 100 Zapier Certified Experts in the world. Kelly has many years’ experience in optimising systems and processes, and implementing automations for clients and is now passing on her knowledge to students through our trademarked ‘4-Step Solvaa Automation Methodology®‘. 

Find out more via our dedicated Solvaa Automation Academy website.

Read more about how our certified experts use Zapier workflow automations to simplify processes and increase efficiency.

Solvaa is a process and automation consultancy specialising in improving sales, operations and financial administration workflows. We help you to simplify and streamline existing processes, integrate your business tools to make data transfer more efficient and automate manual tasks to increase productivity. We are Zapier Certified Experts, Pipedrive Certified Experts and Xero Certified Advisors. 

Contact us today to discuss how Solvaa can help you simplify, improve and automate all aspects of your business with Zapier to save you time, reduce costs and keep you agile as you grow.

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