Three Ways to Grow Your Small Business
There are ONLY three ways to grow your small business:
Gain a new customer
Get an existing cutomer to spend more money in your business
Increase the frequency of your customers’ interactions with your business
Get a NEW Customer
Growing business owners have figured this out - you need NEW customers to create steadily increasing revenue.
Existing customers, if they continue to spend at their current rate will, by definition, maintain your business at it’s current level.
Many business owners are happy with this situation - they gain a caseload or portfolio of clients and work hard their whole life to keep their existing clients happy. Doctors, attorneys, physical therapists and dentists can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in personal income (in the United States) just maintaining their personal caseloads and now worrying about growth.
It takes WORK to gain a new customer - often because that means a small business owner will need to hire employees to service those new customers. Employees require management (which will be the subject of a separate blogpost).
But, if you want your small business, clinic or office to scale beyond your personal capacity, you’ll need to acquire new customers to grow.
The process by which businesses acquire new customer leads is called marketing - more on that in a minute.
Get an Existing Customer to Spend More Money
You should ask WHY your existing customer came to you in the first place? Was it your expertise? Was it your experience? Was it your training, license or credentials? Any of these differentiators create authority that leads to TRUST.
In today’s information-overloaded economy, consumers need trusted proessionals to help decide WHICH products and services are best for them. They need to know the right size, the right way to use it, when to use it, when NOT to use it, etc.
Consumers’ questions are endless. That is why a retail sales kiosk or upgrade to your basic service makes sense. Again, physicians, therapists, hairstylists - even auto mechanics - all upgrade their products and services at the point-of-sale.
I just purchased the Lifetime Tire Rotation service for $200 for a set of new tires I just bought. The service expert at the auto shop walked me through the process: “Change your oil every 5,000 miles and get your tires rotated EVERY OTHER time you change your oil!” he told me - simple! As long as I rotate my tires 4 times in the next 2 years, I will not lose money - the 5th time I rotate my tires, I’m in the black!
I’m better off with this service because I’m incentivized to keep my car in good repair and the small business is better off because they have made additional revenue.
Small business owners should look for ways to enhance their services in ways that serve their customers.
Increasing the Frequency of a Customers’ Interactions with Your Business
Customers have problems - that is why they seek you out. The more useful you become at solving their problems, the more they will seek you out.
To become indispensible to your customers, you must understand ALL of their problems you can impact with your service or product. Sometimes, this can be as simple as asking (or, train your team to ask):
“What else can we help you with?”
This is the service equivalent of, “Would you like fries with that?”.
Obviously, your business needs a prepared response, whether it be some $2 fries or the $200 Lifetime Tire Rotation service. Notice, in this example, the Lifetime Tire Rotation serves as both an up-sell and to increase the frequency of interactions.
A physician, chiropractor or a physical therapist might schedule free preventative screening every 3 months as a service to increase the frequency of interactions. Problems identified during the screening can be addressed and, perhaps, paid through the health or dental insurance.
A slightly more sophisticated approach to understand ALL your clients’ needs is a questionnaire when they initially approach your business.
We use this in our physical therapy business. We call it our Client Needs Screen and it asks 20 questions about all aspects of our clients’ life, from head to toe, to understand how we can better serve them.
The point is, your business up-serve and up-sell your current clients without spending a dime on external marketing.
If you do it right, your customers will leave surprised and delighted at your service, they will come back and they will bring their friends and family.