I’ve run a service business (@ideawareco) for over 6 years and running the company has been THE single most challenging and rewarding experience of my life.
Well that and raising my two boys 🙂
And one of the biggest challenges I (still) deal with is growing the business…
“In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.” — Lou Holtz
Now, a service business grows by:
- Finding more customers (and keeping the same rates)
- Less or equal number of customers (and increasing your rates)
- Taking care of your bottom line (your profit %)
I’ll only write about finding customers in this article for the sake of keeping things short. (If you’re interested I can write about bottom line in another article? Let me know in the comments.)
Assuming you are providing a valuable service, finding your first few customers is not that hard. By reaching out to your personal network of family and friends, chances are you’ll land your first customers in no time.
Growing from there is where the fun begins!
There’s four main ways you can find customers for a service business (or almost any type of business for that matter):
- Hire or outsource sales
- Spend money on ads (Facebook, Google, affiliate networks, etc)
- Content marketing
- Word of mouth
The first two cost money. I spent countless hours and thousands of dollars trying to bring in shiny new customers to the business.
Ads brought in either nothing or the wrong type of customer. Bringing in the wrong type of customer is bad for business. You always want a high customer lifetime value (CLT).
Buying/bidding on ads is also very tricky and there are a lot of bigger fish out there with marketing budgets a hundred times more than yours.
Sales people are hit or miss. I found it difficult to align the type of contracts they brought in to our ideal type of customer. Projects came and went, again, poor CLT.
Sales people can be very expensive too.
Change what’s not working
If you’ve been spending hundreds or thousands on marketing or ads with mixed results, it’s time to stop. I came to this conclusion after a while. Probably too long of a while.
Instead focus your energy on looking back and seeing what decisions and clients have brought the most growth and revenue.
Once I did this, I realized our current clients were driving most our growth.
The trick is to focus on your clients
As counterintuitive as it may sound, your clients hired you for the service not the end result. That’s why it’s called a service business.
By providing your client the best possible service experience you are turning your clients into your brand advocates and marketers.
It goes something like this:
Your service is the client experience.
A good client experience is a happy client.
A happy client pays on time.
A happy client speaks to a lot of people about your service.
People reach out to you.
And the great thing about it all is that once someone reaches out to you from a client referral, they are already leaning strongly into hiring you.
Your client did the pitch and most of the sales for you already, all you have to do is close.
Stop looking outside and spending time reading growth hacks. You can grow your business right now by providing value & a great to your clients. Growth will follow by referrals and introductions.
This is the true nature of a service business.