Starting a Business

4 Essentials for Growing an On-Demand Company

4 Essentials for Growing an On-Demand Company
Image credit: Facebook | Uber
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The “On-Demand” industry is exploding: one can hail a citizen driver almost instantly, outsource any number of jobs and tasks online, get almost anything delivered anywhere in minutes, rent out other people’s homes for sleep or work, you name it, all with the tap of a smartphone.  

With this ever-expanding shift towards instant gratification, countless companies -- not just the Ubers, the Amazons or the Airbnb’s of the world -- must evolve their infrastructure to accommodate this growing trend or risk being left behind.

But how?

It is ultimately a combination of strong technology and human touch that enabled this consumer revolution and will ensure better service for the customer.  

There are a plethora of technologies that make it easier than ever for companies to help consumers get whatever it is they want, right here, right now. But with such a diverse selection of technologies available, it is hard to know which SaaS and API solutions are right. A good company can make use of these technologies to create a balance of sub-systems working together to fulfill the company’s needs.

Here are four key tips that helped us to sustainably scale-up an on-demand smartphone repair service now available in 17 major U.S. cities:

1. Create a user interface focused on service.

With everything available all the time, service is key to success. On-demand services need to be easy and enjoyable. User Interface (UI) is crucial to creating a successful on-demand business. A company’s app or website is the customer’s first glimpse into the service they will receive It should be thought of as a storefront -- neat and clean, with clear signage to aisles of interest. It should be easy for the customer to see when the service provider will be arriving at their location, as well as the price that they will be paying, with no surprises.

The same level of attention should be given to the back end of the app, streamlining the interaction for your employees to make things like customer location and job specs crystal clear while simplifying communication between both ends. Service providers should have to spend minimum time searching for consumer details and job requirements, and maximum time servicing the customer’s needs.

Ultimately, ease of use will attract more customers and more high-quality service providers, which is a critical to any company’s growth.

Related: Bringing an On-Demand Mentality to Employee Development

2. Be quick, reliable and accurate.

It is important for your on-demand service to be quick and reliable. The less time that passes between an order and its fulfillment, the happier the customer will be, the more jobs you will be able to process and the more revenue you will generate. As such, your entire system should be built for speed.

But speed isn’t everything. Much of getting an on-demand service right is about making sure service providers have the necessary skill sets and the right equipment. Think about ordering a ride from Uber for five people and having a four-seater appear, or ordering a repair for an iPhone 6 and having a technician with iPhone 5 parts show up.

It is also absolutely critical for the service to be straightforward and transparent. A confusing or misleading service will turn off customers, and even just one bad experience can spread quickly.

Speed is critical, however, when it comes to payment. Missed or delayed payments to service providers will discourage them from engaging with your company as well.

Related: What the HomeJoy Failure Tells Us About the Future of the On-Demand Economy

3. Trend analysis.

Your business has an enormous amount of untapped statistical data which it can utilize to identify areas of opportunity in the on-demand economy. There are two main sources of data to consider – Macro and Micro.

Microdata can be used to increase effectiveness of individual job request fulfillment. This includes information such as the location of customers, current stock and location of service providers. Data from live traffic updates has also become widely available with enormous benefits.

Macrodata includes things such as surge times as well as trends regarding user location or demand for different types of services. Macrodata will aid with supply and demand prediction and thus in forward planning.

These two streams of data feed one another to highlight areas of growth potential, better supply chain management and trends that can lead to a better understanding of your operations. Making the right calculation in real-time based on such data is key to increasing margins, reducing travel time and making the supply and demand chain much more agile. Also, by utilizing big data, the system itself can learn and improve for the future.

Of course, with all of this in mind, your company must put a premium on securing and respecting your customers’ information and privacy.

4. Stay modular to take advantage of scale.

If you’re taking your first steps in the on-demand world, you probably aren’t interested in overhauling your entire information system just yet. That’s fine. Keep in mind that with information technology advancing at exponential rates, you’re going to have to update your system on a regular basis anyway, so better off making it modular and flexible to begin with. Smart, sustainable and scalable growth is paramount as the logistics required for a large company dealing with tens of thousands of customers daily are very different than those of a small one dealing with just hundreds -- from the size of the support team to the complexity of real-time decision-making.

With this in mind, make sure that your company’s back end is layered, making it simple to update and easy to see how information from one section affects and is affected by the layer above and below it.

The bottom line: as the demand in our on-demand economy for instant gratification grows, if you learn to accommodate, the long-term gratification of your company will grow as well.

Related: What Workers Need in the On-Demand Economy