When the typical small business owner starts out, the No. 1 tactic for revenue growth is to put in longer hours. But this can go only so far. And not just because there are only so many hours in a week. Put yourself through 70-hour work weeks long enough, and the hopes and dreams you brought into your business give way to exhaustion.
You can avoid that grind by lowering your revenue targets and cutting back on your hours to meet new, lower revenue goals. For some people, this solution is satisfactory. For others, the reduced hours are fine, but the lower revenue targets are unacceptable. If you are one of those others, how can you meet the revenue targets that you really desire to meet?
Try some of these proven methods:
- Build a referral system. Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking referrals come only from customers. If your customers are industrial ones, it’s unlikely that a plant engineer at one facility will even know his counterpart at another facility. Build a referral system with other specialty companies serving the same customer demographic you serve. You will have to do some research and reaching out to get that ball rolling.
- Go to where customers are. Is there a local chapter of a professional or trade organization that your potential customers are likely to participate in? If not, what would it take for you to start that local chapter? This leads to serious networking, and some businesses get 100 percent of their leads from this one method.
- Don’t think in terms of customer satisfaction. It is more efficient in the short term to do just enough to satisfy a customer so that you can close that job and do the next one. But in the longer run, it is less efficient. If you seek to “wow” each customer by your professionalism, work quality, on-time record, and friendly service, you’ll build a cadre of customers asking you to work for them. Think of what you can do to differentiate yourself in a “delight the customer” way.
- Learn the pain points. Make a point of asking customers what their pain points are and addressing the one that really jumps out. And do it in a big way.
For example, you ask Pete the plant engineer, and he says he hates it when contractors leave a mess. Five other customers say the same thing; it’s an epidemic in your area. Your solution might be to create a position just for this problem.
Maybe it’s a crew of two, and they wear special blue jumpsuits with NO MESS in big white letters on the back. They have a dedicated truck with dedicated equipment, and they are trained specifically for this task. They are dispatched to one job, clean up as much as possible, then leave for the next job to help that crew.
This sounds expensive, but guess who is going to get a ton of new business? And you’re not tasking your electricians with carrying the full burden of cleaning up. They can spend more of their high-rate labor hours doing the specialized work you hired them to do.
If this solution sound crazy to you, stop to think about any remodeling projects for which you’ve hired contractors to perform on your property. Did the mess drive you nearly crazy? What else annoyed you?
A siding company had a similar “cleaner” solution, dispatching a “cleaner” who visited one job site in the morning and another in the afternoon. He’d clean up mid-job, relieving the crew of much of the work. He even had several magnet sweepers to pick up any stray screws from the driveway and yard; he’d always leave one with each crew before departing.
The siding company knew that “contractor mess” was a major pain point because this one complaint appeared consistently on feedback forms. After the company solved the problem, the former weakness became a selling point of differentiation.
If “contractor mess” isn’t a major pain points with your customers, find out what is, and take care of it in a big way. Documentation might be a good place to start looking.