Five Strategies To Scale Your Service Business Profitably
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Service businesses are very easy to set up. Unlike product businesses where you must design and build a unique product to bring to market, you can start a service business just by making it known on social media that you have certain skills and are willing to work for pay.
Running a service business is a different thing entirely, however. If not done properly, it can quickly bog you down in details and have you feeling less like an entrepreneur and more like you are just working another stressful job, especially when you are trying to scale and take on more work. To make the most of your business, here are a few strategies you can implement to scale effectively and maximize profits:
Implement a strict staff hiring policy
As you take on more business and begin to aim toward larger contracts, the quality of staff with whom you’re working is going to be probably the most crucial determinant of how successful you are. If you have staff who won't do the barest minimum, you’ll end up bleeding profits, and if clients get a negative impression about your workers’ competence, honesty or any other traits, it could spell the end of referrals, which are crucial for business growth. To prevent that, take the time to vet all applicants extensively and go beyond their qualifications to be sure that they are good fits for your team. Consider implementing probation periods during which you can evaluate new staff with minimal risk, but also put proper onboarding processes in place to get them up to speed as quickly as possible and give them the best chances of success.
Focus your digital marketing
Digital marketing is all the rage nowadays, and for good reason: The internet is where most people first turn to when looking to procure a service. If you’re able to position your brand well enough, you’ll be getting a lot of consistent business. SEO is crucial, and while most companies already have some form of optimization going on, you can get ahead of the curve by focusing on local SEO. By prioritizing hyper-local visibility, you’ll be able to establish a presence in the new markets you’re moving to much quicker. Content marketing is also crucial – it’s an effective way to announce your arrival and a credibility boost in the market. In the words of Robert Bly, author of The Digital Marketing Handbook, “People share valuable content with friends and colleagues even more readily than they do product or service information. So, content is a very viral type of marketing and gets passed along more often than pure sales messages.”
Delegate and build stable structures
The test of whether your service business is truly scalable is whether it can survive and grow in new markets without your direct, hands-on involvement. Many founders struggle with a perfectionist mindset in which they are skeptical of any other member of staff being able to deliver their own quality of work. To grow, you’ll need to trust your members of staff to deliver, or your business will continue to be limited by your individual capacity. While you might not find someone that’s as good as you are, the long-term solution is to refine your systems and put-fail safes in place to ensure that your team members can self-manage and effectively produce quality work even in your absence.
Give the best customer experience
Beyond your skills and results, customer service is an easy way to set your brand apart and get market share from the established brands. As companies grow and begin to deal with more customers, they tend to let their customer experience slip. If you can offer quality service in a stellar customer experience package, you’ll build customer trust and get increased conversions and referrals as a reward. In the words of Alessandro Rinaldi, CEO of Help4U, the quality of your staff will shine through. Only hire staff with good customer relations skills and invest the time and resources to train them up to a higher standard where neccessary. Even though you’ll likely be looking to cut costs as you expand, it’s an investment that’ll pay for itself many times over when your customers give rave reviews about how great they found the experience of working with you.
Get legal protection
Many business owners delay getting legal counsel out of a desire to keep their overhead costs down, but it’s a very dangerous strategy. Even simple contracts and regulations can result in serious business consequences (fines, liabilities, etc) if issues arise. The danger is increased when you are entering new markets and taking on new clients as you scale, since there will certainly be jurisdictional differences that will affect your legal obligations in different situations.
Get a lawyer or law firm on retainer as soon as you begin making plans to expand, if you don’t have one already. Have them review all your contracts and regulatory obligations to be sure you and your clients are fully protected. Be sure to pay attention to your insurance too– make sure all your equipment is covered, and that you have coverage for professional liability too. No one expects or hopes for professional liability lawsuits, but that’s the whole point of getting insurance– just in case. In all, service industries have been growing consistently for many years now, and the outlook remains good. Whether you’re just starting out or already have an established business, the tips above will help you scale efficiently and profitably.