A friend of mine recently started a small service business, over the last 9 – 12 months it has really grown (yes, during COVID). He has hired 3 people, but he is getting bogged down in running the business instead of growing the business. He’s hired a manager and two employees- but there is a real lack of structure in the business. He is busy, he’s getting contracts but simply can’t keep up and often finds that he and his manager are doing the same thing.
That causes problems. They frequently quoted different prices to the same person, for the same work. Not very professional. Or they simply didn’t quote, because he thought his manager was doing it and the manager thought he was doing it.
They were not costing jobs correctly either, where something should take 2-3 hours they may quote only one hour. Or over quote, be completed early and have employees sitting around because no other work was scheduled.
In his business the key to success is ensuring your employees are busy at least 80% – 90% of the day and after we looked at the numbers (based on what he had tracked) they were busy maybe 50% to 65% of the day. That’s a lot of wasted cycles where there is no productivity at all – he’s losing money.
He wants to grow his business but doesn’t know where to start. Simply hiring people isn’t the answer because at some point he’ll discover he didn’t need 10 people but simply needed better processes in place and he could have managed with 3 or 5 and now he’ll have to let people go.
So what is the first step in scaling your business?
Map the customers journey. How are they finding you? Is it all word-of-mouth? Are they coming from reviews left on Google? Perhaps Facebook or some other social media platform? Are they coming from your website?
Understanding where your customers are coming from is important as it will reveal gaps that you need to fill.
Once you’ve got your customer journey mapped out, the next step is examining how you are moving your customer through your business.
What happens when they email you? How about if they call you? If you’ve got a contact form on your website and they are reaching you through there? If so, what happens when they send you a message?
Map out the flow once the customer reaches you. This is important because this will show you who is getting involved, and at what points. It will show you gaps in your processes, it will also show you where you could be losing customers because you’re not taking into account the path that they may be following.
The flow doesn’t need to be fancy and this will be the basis of developing processes for your business to help it grow.
Once you’ve mapped out the journey, look at the tools you are using. How are you tracking the leads coming into your business?
Someone else I know runs a small one-man business providing an onsite service, but he tracks his leads on sticky notes and more often than not he loses them or completely forgets about them. Thing is, he carries his cell phone with him everywhere he goes. It took a couple of hours to get him to onto an app where he can better track his leads and actually follow-up on them. He went from 3-5 customers per day to well over 10 and he’s now looking at adding one more person to his operation.
Once we had the journey mapped out, we looked at where his leads were coming from. Most were from Facebook, the next highest were referrals and from his website contact form and some came through Twitter, and Instagram. Problem was he was neglecting almost all of these and spending a lot of time with email — nothing wrong in that, he just didn’t know clearly where leads were coming from.
Once he knew where the leads were coming from, not only could he concentrate on those accounts but he could target his advertising and efforts.
We ended up adding reviews to his site, he would interact with visitors to his Facebook page and he set-up a referral program to encourage current and past clients to refer him to others. He started to build his email list and surprisingly found out he had hundreds of clients — many he never reached out to after the initial contract.
There is an excellent article in Forbes “Don’t Spend 5 Times More Attracting New Customers, Nurture The Existing Ones.“. Guess where he was spending a lot of time? Nurturing existing clients is such a win-win. In his mind, what was the point of the constant contact once you’ve completed the job?
Back to his social media. I helped him straighten that out, we built a process where he would check all his major social media accounts on a daily basis — usually first thing in the morning. He then hired a virtual assistant who would check leads throughout the day and send them to him using an app called Housecall Pro (subscription based). It’s not inexpensive, but it’s helping keep his calls lined up so he doesn’t miss any. Every call he makes is worth easily $500 in profit so really the cost of Housecall Pro is justified and in face makes him more money.
We built a process for the VA to follow. If one VA doesn’t work out, he can hire another and give them the well documented process and they get up-to-speed in hours instead of days/weeks.
This app was really key to getting him organized which honestly was 85% of why he was losing out on business.
We got communication straightened out with his manager, and with his employees — he didn’t need to keep them all, but since his leads were now coming to him instead of getting lost he felt that the extra cost could be supported through the business.
As we got processes built, communications streamlined he noticed productivity increase as his employees were not sitting around. Jobs were getting costed more accurately and importantly they were not stepping on each others toes. They started morning huddles to map out their day and week.
After 2-3 months he felt more in control over what was happening, and could see clearly about what his next steps need to be to grow the business.