Over the past few years, I’ve worked with many service businesses – through both acceleration programmes and enterprise support sessions. The one core issue I see them struggle with? “Boxing up” their services into products. Why? Because often service providers are fearful of the ‘cutting the nose off to spite the face’ factor of culling or repackaging their offering to appeal to a wider or more sustainable target audience (and drive a more sensible, profitable revenue model).
Having battled through the pain barrier several times with growth-focused businesses and high-potential start-ups, this initial moment of panic stems only from one thing: (to borrow a phrase from my US colleagues) decisioning. The reality is this: without a proper ‘shelf of products’ any business is going to spend an inordinate amount of its time chasing client orders, delivering to all sorts of unmanageable demands, and, ultimately, struggling to achieve or develop a tangible growth model.
This is where the truth of decisioning (or decision-making) comes to the fore. Service businesses, in some ways, can shadow their colleagues in product-based businesses – for in a lot of instances, it’s the simple analogy of developing a ‘line of products’ out of your service offerings that will create ultimate scale possibility. When you walk into a supermarket or store, and you know what you’re there to buy – you simply head to the section of the market you know the item will be found. It’s that simple. Herein lies the root of the analogy – knowing your customer well enough to be able to define your services’ productisation clearly to resonate with their requirements.
Which brings me, nicely, along to … So, what drives the decisions you need to make? Well, you need to be paying attention to:-
- your customers (current, past and future), their habits, needs (refer to my comments on NOSE of old!);
- your market-place, trends, upcoming legislative / other changes etc; and
- bear all this in mind in line with your own business’s vision. Thinking about these few questions – where are the opportunities potentially, going to surface from?
Related: Eyes Wide Open for Opportunity
Another key driver in moving to productised services for business development, is the role regular strategy reviews play – how often have you (or do you) spend on analysing or paying attention to service demands and their trends? Which ones are rising and which are falling? How are revenue projections and sales forecasts performing versus their real outputs? Or are you simply like that exhausted hamster on its wheel, continuing on the same track with no real sense of what’s going on around you – either good or bad?
Finally – when you sit back and assess these realities – what are they telling you? Are customer trends, demands, the market-place conditions and your own strategy review revealing what your ‘product line’ should look like? If not – why not? Remember that your customer should be at the centre of every decision you make regarding your business, especially when it comes to your business model. So listen carefully to their feedback and keep their, aforementioned, NOSE in mind at all times.
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