Has your service-based business hit a sales plateau? It’s a phenomenon that happens to companies of all sizes, and it’s frustrating—but not insurmountable.
When you start to see the stall in your figures, you have a few options. The first is to evaluate whether or not you want to scale your organization. If you do, then you need to figure out the best strategy to grow without overextending your capacity.
For instance, perhaps you need to sell more to your current customer base. That’s a tried and true method to increase profits. However, it can only get you so far because sooner or later your fans will be tapped out. That’s where your second choice comes into play: To give your company a bigger boost, you’ll need to engage in some innovative expansion ideas.
As you brainstorm your way toward scalability, consider trying any of the following five business-building tips.
1. Launch an auxiliary service.
Sure, you’re an expert in your industry. You’re probably an expert in other functions, too, including ones that could be monetized. In fact, most professionals wear lots of hats. This means they become knowledgeable in a variety of areas, not just their core business functions. And when you’re a master of something, you can potentially sell your mastery to others.
Case in point: Florida law firm Anidjar & Levine spent years honing their digital advertising expertise in-house. The team decided to leverage their winning strategies and expand the business by founding a lawyer-focused advertising agency. “We found that removing the middleman allowed us to create relationships directly with advertisers and opens the doors to negotiate better deals,” Anidjar admits.
2. Expand your footprint virtually.
Since the start of the 2020 pandemic, people have become even more comfortable with technology. Not only are they meeting on Zoom, but they’re learning through online platforms. Consequently, you might be able to expand into new territories simply by opening up your services digitally.
Take Airbnb. The company known for its travel and hosting embraced something unique called Airbnb Experiences, a platform that took off during Covid. Airbnb Experiences allows consumers to become armchair tourists and engage in fun online adventures. Plus, the company’s been able to stretch beyond geographic boundaries while upping its—and its hosts’—revenue. As Airbnb Experiences head Catherine Powell notes, “…We’re giving people the chance to connect…and we’re offering people an opportunity to earn an income.”
Your business has become known for specific services. Are there complementary services that you could introduce to turn into more of a “one stop shop?” Often, a company’s main menu of offerings could be fleshed out further, increasing your opportunity to cross-sell or upsell.
For instance, let’s say you offer a housecleaning service for residential customers. Your associates constantly talk about seeing pets in customers’ homes. Could it be worth the time to offer some kind of step-up service with dog walking or in-house grooming? Getting imaginative might wind up opening doors for you, as long as it fits within your corporate model, risk tolerance, and bandwidth.
4. Find a new purpose for your service.
It’s easy to forget that your services may have underserved purposes to the right type of customer. A great example of that is Facebook. Its original intent was to connect Harvard University attendees. Had the founders not seen the greater possibilities for it changing the way people converse, it might still be a Harvard-only phenomenon.
To be sure, seeing your service in a new light might be too much of a challenge. That’s where polling, surveys, and focus groups come into play. Seek ideas from consumers unfamiliar with what you offer and listen to their feedback on untried audiences. You could be sitting on a figurative gold mine without realizing it.
5. Form a partnership arrangement with another business.
A final way to expand is to work hand-in-hand with another successful company. Oh, and you don’t have to sell to the same crowd, either, to make this type of expansion work. Take the Dunkin’ and Amtrak partnership. Formed just a few years ago, it fostered a relationship that gave both companies exposure. And they’re not alike in any way, except that they serve people.
Was the partnership successful? It seems that way. By the brands’ one-year anniversary, Dunkin’ had sold 850,000 cups of its signature brews on Amtrak. That’s the kind of partnership that keeps giving. Partnerships are also a chance to share advertising and marketing costs. No matter what your business sells, you can probably link up with another organization to do a little cross-pollination and partnering.
Expanding in the post-Covid economy might seem like a tough sell, but consumers are still buying. You just have to take the time to creatively investigate ways to scale your business. Moving the profit needle just a little can help you meet quarterly goals and take the lead in your service industry.