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10 Critical Success Factors For A Service Business

LaddersFree is not only one of the largest national window cleaning service providers in the UK but possibly the most successful. Established in 2002 and operated for the first few years from a small single bedroom at their mother’s home, Justin and Jason Korinek have managed to increase their turnover every year for the last 17 years… they are clearly doing something right!

With a turnover of £3.5 million and its head office now on the outskirts of Exeter, LaddersFree Window Cleaning have not relied upon acquisitions or external investment but organic growth specifically focusing on employing the right people and delivering unrivalled service levels consequently enhancing their reputation enabling them to increase their customer base.

They share the 10 critical success factors for any service business that have helped them succeed in their space.

1. Make your proposition a Luxury, Not a Commodity.

Regardless of the service you provide, try to make your proposal something that customers cannot afford to miss out on. Instead of focusing on pricing strategically, it is better to set your standards so high, potential clients see the value in what you offer, for example through the quality of service you provide, the support you provide after you have delivered the service, or your health and safety compliance. With any proposal ensure you give you customers access to independent reviews that have been posted online. This should include TrustPilot, Yell.com and Google Business Listings. When you do this, profits will follow and you keep the soul of your business intact.

Pricing to undercut the competition has its pressures, and when your service is deserving of more, you should reflect that in your prices. When you do this and move your focus away from price, profits will follow and you keep the soul of your business intact.

2. Recruit the Best People.

Your people are your most valuable asset and will ultimately determine the success or failure of your business. Without the right people you cannot be successful. With this in mind, you want to make sure you recruit a core team with the right qualities to ensure your business stands apart from the competition.

You will need recruit people the right level of experience, character, and customer service, empower people to make decisions and take control and reward people that will get you the commitment and loyalty you need to form an unbeatable team that represents your company in the way you want it to.

3. A Company Website is critical to success.

So much business is won and lost on the internet. You might have the best employees and standards, but you might be missing out on customers because your website does not deliver the results you need. A company website should be updated every few years most importantly so that the information is correct and up to date. Make sure your website includes:

Reviews.

Prospective Customers like to see what other people say about your business. Try and also provide links to other reviews that can be found on other independent websites.

Contact Details.

This should include your telephone number, email address, contact form, mailing address. Be Transparent and Don’t hide anything or make out you are something you aren’t. For example if you offer a service in a particular area and don’t travel make this clear so your prospective customers are aware.

Sell Yourself.

Lots of information about the service you provide, your accreditations and your achievements. Be proud. It is your opportunity to Gloat!

Clear Call To Action.

Include a clear sales funnel that encourages people to get in touch. Make it clear what information you want, what you need and what the process will be in getting a proposal.

About Us Page.

People like to read about people. Be personable and include information about your humble beginnings, leading to your current success. It also means you are real. It is amazing how many websites are out there that have no human connection are just ‘lead generation sites’.

4. People Buy from People.

You can get a lot of business from word of mouth, but sometimes, this includes a bit of work. By networking, you get the chance to help others. This can help your business build a reputation as one that offers a lot of expertise and you never know what that can lead to.

Consider writing for a local magazine. It will not take you long but you never know what it could lead to.

Meeting people face to face is a much better way of gaining business and forming relationships. When it comes to clients, they often want a consultation before they request your services. Don’t deny them a meeting as it will only cost you some travelling expenses and time and this is a foot in the door to getting more work.

5. Consider Contracts/Service Agreements.

One off cleans make it difficult to build a sustainable business. By offering attractive contracts, you can future proof your business, and a reliable income. If you can get a client to commit long term, then it helps your employees..

Getting a commitment through a Contract or Service Agreement can also mean you can budget leading to possible further investment in people or equipment.

Longer contracts help you to build trust with a client. With this, a customer is more open to your suggestions that can be mutually beneficial.

Having said that, getting contracts signed can be tricky so It is important to help new clients understand the benefits of a longer contract. You might consider offering a small discount, fixing the price for the length of the contract or offering an additional complimentary service should they make the commitment.

6. Know the Competition.

Competitor analysis should form part of your business plan. Keeping an eye on the competition and their strengths and weaknesses, especially looking out for new businesses that are trying to get a foothold in the area will ensure you stay one step ahead. You will often find new businesses are advertising on Google because their website is relatively new and they don’t have the organic rankings to generate enough enquiries.

Information including price, service specification and any additional services they are offering can you help you make decisions for your own business. You need to research the competition and ask yourself a few questions. Do they pose a threat to your business? How successful are they? Does their website have anything that you can utilize on your website?

7. Upsell.

Your core services are your bread and butter but you can always increase the amount of work you carry out for your existing customers by upselling. You want to encourage a customer to buy something additional or more expensive but you need to know how to upsell without putting off your customer.

For example at LaddersFree, the core service is window cleaning services but then they will offer their customers gutter cleaning, cladding cleaning and other building cleaning services. Not only does this increase turnover but these services are more profitable as LaddersFree do not have the marketing expenses associated with bringing on new customers.

Upselling can also lead to better loyalty as customers commit to getting a number of services of just one service provider.

8. The Importance of Saying No.

Sometimes you get a particular feeling when talking to a potential client. If they are asking for too much, or asking for a discount on the quote provided, then you might be better off saying no. Some clients never get easier, and protecting yourself against the potential grief will free up time to focus on the customers that will grow your business.

If a customer continually call with a service request that will be unpaid, you have to draw a line and potentially lose them as a customer. Sometimes saying yes feels easier, but saying no is better.

Be sensitive when saying no but consider the fact that sometimes, a simple no can be best for you, and the client; You might help to manage their expectations or allow them to find a better fit for their business.

9. Know Your Target Market.

Knowing your target market can help you to tailor your business to their needs. It also makes sure you only attract the clients you want to work with. This is important for staff morale and makes forging a reputation easier.

Decide on the type of customer you are looking to attract and the size of their business and this will help you with competitor analysis and your marketing strategy. If your target market involved attracting large businesses then you will need to take a different approach from someone looking to attract smaller independent customers.

10. Be One Step Ahead of the Competition.

You don’t always have to wait for the competition to stay one step ahead, but it can help. Keep up to date on market trends, changes in technology and most importantly the evolution of marketing to attract new customers.

As has already been discussed having a website that is better than your competitors will ensure you stay ahead. Try to think outside the box and do something different to attract new customers.

Perhaps you can offer an additional service that others do not. At the very least, you should make your customers feel comfortable, and go the extra mile where you can. If you get an understanding of what your competition is capable of, their resources, and where they sit in terms of reputation, you can always work to make yours better.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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