From commercial and residential cleaning to pet grooming to landscaping businesses, the service industry for small businesses continues to grow. However, service-based businesses are tough to scale. Figuring out how to take your business to the next level is a serious challenge.
Review the steps below outlining the types of funding available, questions you need to answer, and loan application tips.
What are service-based businesses?
The service based business model is where customers purchase the skills of a service provider or owner, such as a plumber, lawyer, tutor, marketing agency, etc. This type of business has a strong emphasis on the client relationship and makes the customer's user experience very important.
Product-based businesses, on the other hand, deliver physical products that should be consistent in quality, making the consumer experience fairly predictable and helping business owners shape customer service policy.
The importance of growing a service-based business
Competition is growing for service-based businesses and you’ll need to stand out from the competition. Industry factors to consider include new competitors or services and the effect of suppliers and customers on price. If you want to stay profitable, try these growth strategies.
8 strategies to growing a service-based business
1. Create a list of goals for your business
It’s no secret that successful entrepreneurs and other high achievers set goals. Setting smart goals in the right way can produce long-term vision and short-term motivation. Taking steps to reach a goal helps you focus on what you need to learn, how to organize your time and how to use your resources to meet those goals.
For guidance setting goals and an outline of the popular SWOT analysis method, review this short blog post: Tips to Help Set Your Business Goals.
2. Identify your customer base
It’s essential to figure out who really needs or wants your services. You can do this by looking at your current customer data and researching similar demographic segments. If you’ve been around a while, engage with your current clients and do as much research as possible.
3. Implement a loyalty program for your customers
Customer loyalty programs are an inexpensive way to increase sales and customer retention. A loyalty program also can prevent customers from visiting your competition while upping the number of purchases your average customer makes each year. Your time and monetary investment pay off significantly in the form of greater profits and fewer lost customers.
You can develop a loyalty program that suits your company and budget. As a small business owner, you might not have the resources to create an app, but a basic system could be right up your alley. Here are six customer reward programs you can use to build a better relationship with your customers while improving your business sales: 5 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty.
4. Research the competition in your service area
You absolutely need to have a handle on your competitors. By performing a competitive analysis, you can discover the products and techniques that have been successful. You’ll also get a comprehensive peek at the audience you share. Look at competitor’s social media accounts, client reviews, the website, and advertising programs.
5. Form strategic partnerships with other businesses
Partnering with other companies can be one of the best ways to promote your business and strengthen your brand. Seek out companies that aren't direct competitors but that offer products and services that complement yours. Then brainstorm some social media strategies, email marketing, or blogging campaigns that promote both of your businesses. You can develop co-marketing campaigns that increase local awareness or drive sales.
6. Leverage social media
If your target audience is active on social media, you’d better be there too! The first step is to determine what you want to get out of a social media presence for your business. Do you want to create brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, generate leads, boost engagement or build a community?
Once you’ve nailed down your goals, you can choose the right platforms and start creating content. The SmartBiz Blog has a guide to get you started: How to Quickly Master Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses. If you don’t have the bandwidth, consider hiring social media consultant. This post can help you launch a search: How to Hire a Social Media Strategist.
7. Optimize your website for SEO
Three little letters “S – E – O” are enough to make any small business owner anxious. No SEO means no visitors from search engines. The good news is that the fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization tend to remain relatively consistent. That doesn’t mean that you can ignore how SEO is evolving. It does mean that putting good SEO practices into place when you establish your business can set you up for success. Strong SEO means you help customers discover your business online.
8. Add new services
This strategy is to continue selling within your existing market while simultaneously adding new services. For example, a lawn care business might add pool cleaning and servicing to their menu. A cleaning business could add window cleaning for an extra price. Again, research is key. You’ll want to take a look at the service landscape for your industry and determine if service expansion is right for you.
Cleaning business success story
Bob Slinskey knew that small business ownership was the best way he could bring in additional income and he didn’t give up that dream. He had a full time job, working evenings establishing The Clean Team, Inc. Bob and his wife Kim initially operated their business, a commercial cleaning janitorial company serving Pennsylvania, out of the back of their car. They now have over 20 employees.
Bob researched SBA loans and knew he’d found the right fit for obtaining working capital with SmartBiz Loans. “I secured a $100,000 SBA loan for working capital and will use the funds to buy new equipment and hire additional staff. I see more business coming my way soon and I wanted to make sure I was ready for it.”
Read more about his inspiring entrepreneurial journey: An SBA Loan is Helping this Small Business “Clean Up”.