You run your own local business so you know, among all the challenges you face, growing your client base is likely your biggest concern. You’re not alone. Recent research, conducted by Booker this year (over 1,200 local service owners participated), revealed that 44% of local service business owners cite growing their business as a primary goal or business need.
But growth for growth’s sake can present more problems than solutions. Blind growth is often the biggest, most costly mistake a services owner can make and puts many a small business out of business. Spending money to grow with the wrong types of new customers or with the wrong offers, and you can get into trouble, fast. Two examples: pricing too low can get you lots of new – but unprofitable – customers. Whereas attracting high maintenance customers can adversely affect service levels for your existing, great customers while hurting employee morale.
The best way to grow, smart? Take a long look at what I like to call “The C’s” – your Customers, your Competitors, and your Company. Reflect on what’s happening in these three areas (before you start marketing or advertising) and you’ll have a roadmap to smart growth.
Take the time to understand the profile of your best – and worst – customers before you start to spend time and money on growth. You’ll thank yourself later as you save a lot of time, money and headaches. Ask yourself these questions to understand more about your best customers:
- What makes them your best customers – are they steady buyers?
- Do they buy a lot of related, “extra” products from you?
- Are they easy to work with and pay fast, without discounts?
- Are they monthly/annual subscribers to your service?
- How did they find you?
- How many more of them do you think there are in your market?
- How can you best attract their friends?
- Do you know how you can your attract more customers like them?
Truly understanding your competitors will prevent you from making profit-eating, big mistakes such as dropping prices or offering knee-jerk giveaways that don’t move the sales needle in a positive way. Ask yourself these questions to understand more about your toughest competitors:
- What kind of customers do they beat you out for – or take from you? Why?
- What do they offer that you don’t or can’t offer, and why?
- What are they committed to in terms of offerings – that is, given “who” they are, where and when do you think they’re likely to expand their offerings?
- What has been their pattern of expanding offerings?
This is all about you! What can you lay out, and commit to, as a roadmap of growth areas on which you can execute – introducing new offerings on a rolling, quarterly basis, so that your business stays fresh and gives clients reasons to always come back (while you keep your competition guessing)?
- What is it that you do uniquely well? Uniquely profitably?
- What is it you offer your clients that you are committed to because it is who you are?
- What is it you can or will offer clients that will excite and delight – and that you can execute at minimal cost?
- What would you like to do next?
Take into account “The Three C’s” and you’ll have your planning building blocks for getting ready to start attracting the right new customers.
Look for our upcoming Part Two of this mini-series, as we build off of this “growth foundation” and show local services businesses how best to grow their businesses.
About the Author
Jim D’Arcangelo leads Booker’s marketing organization, with specific focus on strategic market expansion, brand and corporate communications, product marketing, demand-gen and sales enablement.More Content by Jim D'Arcangelo