Organization is a harsh word that many business owners hate hearing. The process is dreaded by many causing images of post-its, colored folders, and mounds of papers scattered all over desks onto the floor. Even the concept of list making seems daunting. What list? What goes on the list? Why am I making lists and how can I get out of having to make one?
Growth is scary for small businesses. You must know when to grow, how to grow, and if your company can handle growth. If you go through these 7 essential Ps, growth will come naturally, and you will gain “home service millionaire” status in no time.
1) Product knowledge
2) Productivity: organization and systems
4) Potential customers
5) Penetrate the marketplace
6) Proper measurement: KPIs
7) People are power
Let’s first look at product knowledge. You really must know what you are selling and all the benefits your product brings to the customer before even starting your business. It is not just a product or a service, but the features and benefits of that product or service. Whatever it is that you are selling, it is a part of something else. You must understand your service or product well enough to know how it is personally benefiting your customers, believe in it, and be passionate about it. A great example of what I mean can be found in the purchase of a weight loss supplement. A customer isn’t just purchasing this supplement, they are purchasing what it does for them, helping them lose weight. To go even farther, they are purchasing the future cause of the weight loss, looking great, feeling better, confidence, and more. You really need to go beyond the product you are selling and map out what is motivating your customers to buy from you. What is your unique selling point (USP) that makes your product different from others in your industry? Start with “I offer” or “I sell” and then add your product or service. At the end of the sentence, put to help my customers… When you can no longer narrow the benefit, you have found the real root to what you are selling. All the sentences leading to that end are parts of the whole. In an interview with Tommy Mello, he explained that a customer is not just purchasing a garage door when he sells to them. They are purchasing the garage door, great customer experience, technicians who are skilled, dependable, safe, and well-trained. They are paying for technicians who have been through background checks and are drug tested. Customers pay for the use of new trucks that don’t break down and are more gas efficient, so they can be sure there are no delays in service. They even purchase from a company that has better warranties, the best technology in the industry, and an app that texts the customer when the tech is on his way.
To sell this product on a larger scale through growth, you must understand productivity and how organization and the use of systems can make or break your expansion. A few key systems you need in place are ordering, supply chain, delivery, and support. Your customers need a tried and true way of ordering from you. That can be online, offline, through magazines, telephone calls, personal involvement etc, they need to be able to pay for your service and know they are going to receive it. Proper steps are required to go from ordering to production to shipping to delivery, and it all needs to be mapped out as well as already tested. You cannot just write this all down
on a piece of paper and forget about it, organization and testing are key to making sure that there are no fail points. Understand how your product is getting to your customer and make sure they understand it, so they are not left in the dark. Ensure your support systems are not only in place and tested, but that they are strong enough to handle customer issues in a timely manner if a fail point or break point were to happen. Operation manuals are great for this because in them you chart out exactly how everything works, how it should be managed if there is a problem, and what steps to take throughout every process in your business. The more details you have covered the better chance for successful and sustainable growth. Another important process you need to have in place is a mechanism for collecting and utilizing customer feedback. Customers want to know that they are being heard, so they need a proper place to list their concerns. Customer complaints offer an enormous amount of information that is very important because you can understand not only the problems of the customers, but where the stress points and cracks are that can potentially be hazardous to the future growth of your company.
With all change, a proper plan written out helps keep you motivated, moving forward, and offers something tangible to refer to whenever you lose your way. Roadmaps can be crucial to the growth of a business because you can use them as checks and balances for your company’s future. If you set an end goal, plan out the journey through smaller attainable steps. Use the S.M.A.R.T. saying when setting these smaller accomplishments, making sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. In making it a specific goal, think of the who, what, where, when, why, and how questions. These key steps to reaching your goal need to be measurable through identifying exactly what it is reaching that goal looks like, feels like, and what you hear once you have made it. Smaller goals also need to be attainable. Weigh the effort behind getting there, the costs, the time, do your research. When it comes to growing your business, will it really be more profitable, or are there changes that need to be made before that is even possible? A larger part of setting these steps is are they even relevant to you? Do you really want to be a million-dollar company owner? Figure out why it is you are even planning on growing the company or remember why you started it in the first place. Make sure, above all, you set time limits and deadlines to all aspects of your road map. That can be date specific to each step or through other methods of quantifying time relative to your accomplishments. Make your plan as detailed as possible before moving forward because this map, this plan, will be a tangible way to hold yourself accountable in your business’s growth.
Now that you know exactly what you are selling, you have systems in place that are strong enough to endure growth, and you have a detailed plan of how you are going to get your company to the size you want. You really need to focus on who your potential customers are and define your space in the home service business. This industry is averaged at a $400 billion dollar industry. You need to understand who you are selling to and who you might inadvertently be selling to. While creating your company you may have established a niche. This is a specific area of the home service industry that your business resides in and sells to. There are thousands upon thousands of services that a home will need over its foreseeable and usable lifetime, but your business sits in one area providing a product or service that benefits customers in one area. However, now that you want to grow your business, you may need to merge into other areas. By
this I mean that when marketing and pushing your companies farther into the industry, you must consider that it is not only your target market you are really selling to anymore. Outside of that target market are other customers that also want your product, your unique spin on the service, and or just see what you have to offer and hope you will sell to them Experts and educational tools all say the way to make money in your market is to specialize in one specific market, but to grow you really have to start thinking outside of that thought process. You need to understand your customers, who they are, why they are still buying from your competitors, and what you can do differently to start attracting them to your business. I mentioned earlier utilizing your USP (unique selling point or position) and shouting that from rooftops not to down your competitors, but to show that the small factors they are not considering, or even offering, can be found within your company. This is that one man’s loss is another man’s gain way of thinking really kicks in.
Now that you are ready to break into the market on a larger scale. Tell all these potential customers about changes you are making, big steps you plan to take, features and benefits they may be gaining through these changes. In some cases, this means you need to let them know you exist and how you can change things for them. Start marketing on a bigger scale, figure out what worked for your company in the past and put it on steroids. Outsource your marketing to an agency or contractors that specialize in your industry and invest the money to reach farther. You should never stop marketing, but you need to focus, grow, optimize and maximize your efforts every step of the way. The digital world is ever growing, but do not forget the old-fashioned letter and direct-mail marketing techniques. Pull out your old toolbox of tricks and start moving forward. In the last step you were growing to really understand your customers, now put that information to use and drive up your sales. Growth is only possible when the profits are there to accomplish it. Utilize financial KPIs (key performance indicators) such as cash flow, conversions, customer leads, sales revenue, and inventory turn. KPI’s are measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Set these standards in your roadmap and keep track so you can measure how well your marketing efforts are working and know by what your measurements are being made.
The last main step, although there are truly so many more factors to consider, is knowing that people are power. Without employees, you are the sole entity of a company and unable to truly grow to a million-dollar company. You need superstars, the best people in the right jobs doing the tasks those jobs entail. Going back to the operation manuals and charting out all the positions needed to properly run your company, listing out the characteristics of the employee that you need in that position to run it optimally. You need to have a process in place to interview, hire, and screen all potential employees so no one slips through the cracks that can be detrimental to your company. Where you represent your company, so do all the people that work for you. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 or 300 or more employees, every single one of them stands for your company, and your company’s values. They need to be onboard with the growth if they are hiring in the company and know what their role is in the expansion. They also affect the marketing because they are a physical representation of your business. Think about uniformity and proper training techniques. Delegate more of your everyday tasks to proper
employees. You may even need to reconsider how you have the business model structured to create new jobs you did not originally need. Hire, hire, hire! It is always better to have an excess number of superstars working for you than to have many positions unfilled and scrounge around to find people to fill them. If you wait to hire anyone you may lower your standards for hiring and in the end hire people that are not the right fit and not even right for your company. Remember good employees know their worth, so this is not an area to be stingy. Current employees can even be recruited in the hiring process through employee referral programs. They may get excited about it if you make it creative and beneficial to them.
I covered and referenced so many topics in this blog, some of which I will touch on in a more detailed fashion throughout future posts. The main point to take away from this is before growing your company, sit down, do your research, and plan as many aspects of the growth as you possibly can.
Without these 7 steps, or factors, in place, your growth may lead to the death of the company or mounds of debt you cannot recover from. Consider each carefully, and if you have questions about anything listed or discussed, please reach out. I will be sure to connect with you and answer any questions the best that I can.