An overwhelming number of successful small businesses today are service businesses. One of the many reasons for this is the fact that services businesses often do not cost a lot of launch.
The capital investment required to launch a lawn mowing business or a carpet cleaning business is not a lot. This is unlike product businesses that require the entrepreneur to invest in designing and manufacturing a product upfront. Also, the margins in this case are often higher and this improves their survival rates.
On the downside however, service businesses are difficult to scale up. There are only so many projects you can take up without carrying additional overhead in terms of workspace or labor. There are however a few ways a service business owner can scale their business up by freeing up resources. Here are a few strategies to do so with help from online tools.
Minimizing non-billed hours
Service businesses typically spend only a part of their work hours on billed tasks. For instance, if a carpet cleaning business takes up two assignments of three hours each every day, then two out of eight hours in a day is unbilled.
Unbilled working hours are a drain on company resources since they do not contribute to your income. While you may reduce this by taking up more projects, some of the unbilled hours are inevitable and are spent on administrative work like raising invoices, following up with clients and advising new prospects.
You may reduce such administrative work hours by deploying the right SaaS tools. Investing in an efficient invoice management software can help you automate invoicing, set up recurring billing, and establishing clearer lines of communication with your clients.
You may also consider investing in other SaaS tools for account management, human resources and tax management to ensure that you spend very little time on tasks that do not directly contribute to your company’s bottom line.
Hiring employees to help you out in your business can effectively grow your service business. However, hiring also mandates the need for new processes and paperwork that a startup business would like to avoid.
One quick way to avoid this is by going the outsourcing route. A growing number of industries are switching to the gig-economy that replaces full time workers with freelancers to conduct business. This reduces overheads on the business side while giving workers the freedom to take on as many or as few projects as they want.
The biggest pain point with such a model however is the challenges with collaborating among various contract workers. The challenges can be greatly minimized with the help of an online collaboration software. Such tools can help workers from various parts of the country collaborate without having to physically meet each other. Such collaboration tools are today even popular among local businesses that bring in gig workers to execute various projects like lawn mowing, carpet cleaning or window cleaning.
Improving Service Efficiency
Service businesses are typically billed on an hourly basis. To put this another way, you may be able to scale up if you can complete your tasks in less time since this frees up more hours to take on additional projects.
Improving service efficiency can be done with the help of online tools. Let us take the example of a web agency that offers end-to-end design and development of a company’s website. Such a business may improve their efficiency if they could use online tools to develop the different components of their service. For instance, they could use online logo tools to build the logo of their client and build the client’s website over a platform like WordPress that brings down the time it takes to get their entire website going. This way, the time it takes to execute your client project is brought down significantly; thus freeing up time to take on more client assignments.
Marketing automation is another area that any service business must focus on to scale their business up. This includes setting up a drip campaign to nurture and convert qualified leads, reaching out to existing customers on a routine basis for follow ups, and so on. While marketing automation requires considerable capital investment in time, there is minimal effort required on a recurring basis, and this is why it is so effective when it comes to scaling up your business.
What other strategies do you think can help service businesses scale up? Share your thoughts in the comments.