A point comes to most business owners where you start thinking about how to scale your service business. You’ve become successful at delivering your fantastic and sought after service to your (appropriately appreciative) clients, but there comes a time when you the rewards you get from the time you invest just doesn’t cut it. That’s when it’s time to think about your scalability options.
We’ve seen over the past 5 years a huge shift in our coaching, accounting, marketing, business development, nutritionalists and consultancy clients move away from hourly based services to memberships or product-based models. I’m not going to tell porkies, it’s not going to be easy but in seeing the difference scaling has made to these business owners, the benefits in terms of profitability, life-balance and most important, being able to help and reach more people, makes the investment one you won’t regret.
There are 3 ways to scale your service business
- Reducing your technical work
- Automating your services
- Turning your services into products
1. Reducing Your Technical Work
This is still a one-to-one relationship with your clients (whereas a membership or online programme would be one-to-many) but consider elevating your service to strategy and planning while moving away from execution. Shift your deliverables and adjust your prices accordingly, you can then scale without adding a constant stream of people power. For example if you’re a social media agency consider doing strategies and training while having the implementation carried out by your client’s teams or a company you partner with.
2. Automating Your Services
Think about reducing the customisation you offer your clients in order to automate your processes and sell those services at scale. You can still offer customisation at an increased price point but in introducing automation you can increase sales without increasing workload. Note you should be automating as many of your processes as you can whether or not you scale your business, AI is the way of the future!
When automating your services without compromising the quality you offer keep in mind:
- Always be transparent about automated processes. Your clients will know and in itself automation can be a benefit, IF YOU ARE CLEAR ABOUT THAT FACT THAT IT’S AUTOMATED. Customer expectation is everything, if you’re clear about what they can expect (for example starting a conversation using a chat bot or sending information by email using a zap) your customers will appreciate the benefits.
- Don’t replace voice with AI. Automation should compliment your services, improving the deliverables while making your business more efficient. It should not replace the personal touch you provide.
- Plan your automation on a sliding scale with what you charge. If a client is paying a few hundred dollars for a service, automate and scale. If they are paying thousands, step it up and balance with ‘reducing your technical work’ above.
3. Turning Your Services Into Products
This is the best way for a service based business to scale. Hands down, and if you’re really focused on getting scale to happen, do this. It’ll put you in a much better position than the other 2 avenues. There’s a few ways to go about this…
This is the jam! Of the three options to scale your service business this one will put you in the best position, the fastest. If you’re not sure which service to productise or even where to start, just think about essentially turning your services into packages. Consider what your customers are repeatedly asking for and where you make your highest margins. If you offer services outside of this specific, repeated request, then you may want to consider no longer offering those services and focusing on one type of customer with one specific problem.
Productising a service means putting a system in place that makes it cheaper, faster, more scalable and more consistent. It also means that you can easily train your team to produce the work without any involvement from you! Can you imagine that?
The most important steps you can take to scale your business
Ok so at this point I can imagine you shaking your head, thinking I’m working 80 hours a week already. How am I supposed to find the time and fund the resources to take on your scalability project! My response, by taking it one step at a time. Really think about ‘why’ you want to scale your business and if the benefits and reasons why stack up for you, here’s some tips to help:
1. Create Systems and Processes
Building systems and processes for repeatable tasks is crucial to scaling a service business because it keeps work moving through your pipeline quickly and sets you up to be as efficient and productive as your business can be now before you take your business to the next phase (reducing nightmares in your near future!).
Think about what you already have in place in terms of your CRM, project management system, marketing tools and whether you’re utilising these as much as you could be. Think about what parts of your business are manual or routine then get your virtual assistant to research solutions to help you automate or systemise them.
2. Be Amazing At Delegating
Ok of course I’m going to suggest you delegate and outsource, it’s what we do! But I see the benefits for business owners who are great delegators in terms of their mindset and in what they’ve been able to achieve. For those of you who think of delegating as losing some control don’t, think of it as taking on someone special who shares your goals. If you have your systems in place, outsourcing or hiring is a way for you to concentrate on your particular zone of genius, just imagine what you’ll be able to do!
If you’re still in your startup phase of business and maybe don’t have the resources to hire employees or pay contractors, you can still automate many aspects of your business to become more efficient. Think of the tools, software and apps as your team.
There you have it, food for thought! What works for me when the mountain seems a tall one is to visualise what my life and business will be like when I’ve achieved a particular goal. How will YOUR life change once you’ve scaled your business? At the risk of harping on about goals (goals are MY JAM!) scaling your service business is just another goal. You’ve already achieved so many. Set yourself a SMART goal and work backwards from there in terms of the actionable items, resources and budget and before you can say ‘I’ve scaled my service business’ you’re on your way.