Scaling after a pandemic
It's now September. The world has gradually started to open up after a few months of a tough lockdown in many parts of the world. That said, the deferral payments are now due, subsidies and grants are subsiding, and business owners will need to start making these payments. Some businesses will have to double their payments because the deferred debt is now piled onto the current ones.
It becomes even more important now, than ever before that entrepreneurs and business owners like yourself learn to scale your business to ensure that you continue to thrive and take your business to the next level.
First of all, you must have heard it so many times - what is scaling your business? It simply means being growing your business without substantial increase in the resources that it normally would take to see an increase in revenue. You might be wondering - "how to I increase sales and manage with the workload and still maintain the level of great customer service that I have become known for?"
Here are a few simple tips that I have gathered that have worked for the clients that I have helped scale their businesses.
Don't forget customer service
Whatever you do, never ever drop your service level. I might even add, when the world comes to an end, don't ever forget great customer service. This is what keeps your clients coming back to you because you have been a trusted advisor, and someone they can come to at their time of need. I'll give you two scenarios, and something that I've personally experienced. The first one was, at the start of the business closures, I have asked for relief on some of the services that I do not need for my business, and was given a stern "no" because it was a contract that I had signed for the work. Another service provider (for a different service) reached out to me and asked if there was anything that they could do, and we negotiated for a deferred payment and some relief as well. Now when things get back to a more normalized state, which do you think I will have no hesitation signing up with? I do agree that sometimes you have to honour whatever contractual agreement that is in place, but it is the level of care and concern for the clients that will have them coming back to you. When you are managing your customers, here are the four rules that I suggest you follow:
Give your customers an irresistable offer
Wow them with what you've got
Engage with them (through social media, text messages, calls, emails, etc.)
Reach out to your customers and ask for reviews or referrals
Bottom line is, you have to be genuine when you are offering exceptional customer service. There is just no two ways about this.
Engage your people
I get that sometimes, and especially in times that we are in, many small businesses are not able to maintain their current workforce levels, and some may have to make the difficult decision to furlough or lay off their workforce to keep the lights on. At times, even government subsidies may not offer the help that it is supposed to. But here's the thing, your employees are possibly the best ambassadors that you can have for your business. If you were nice to them, and treat them like the ambassadors that they are pre-pandemic, when difficult decisions have to be made, they will absolutely understand where you are coming from.
These are a few simple rules to help your people stay on top of things:
Engage your employees where it is possible. Reach out to them daily, or at least once every few days to make sure that they know that you still care for them, and are concerned not just for their work deliverables, but their well-being and their family
Sometimes, using cheesy communications go a long way. If you have not, start using some emojis in your chats with them. This might take some getting used to, if you're not into it, but every little bit of humour and smiley faces help.
Give your employees power to decide on certain things, such as when they are reaching out to your customers. Or even something as simple as chairing your weekly meetings.
Development during this time is priceless. Improve on skills such as sales, productivity and time management, remote working, planning, customer service, management and leadership, and even mental health. These skills will become crucial when it's time for your business to scale.
When your business starts to experience growth, these experiences from your employees will go a long way for them to go above and beyond what they are normally expected to do.
Review your processes
I can't stress enough the processes that you have to put in place to ensure that everything is scalable. Look over all of your operational, sales, administrative processes. Is there anything that is redundant? What can be further improved? What if you double your sales? What needs to change when that occurs? Are you ready for that level of growth?
Build partnerships and relationships
Even before your business begins to scale, it's important to note that no business is an island, and we are all connected to each other all the time. Think about local organizations or other businesses (sometimes even your competitors) where you are able to leverage one another's skills and resources to grow together. There's always a third way. I've heard over the radio a few months ago where several businesses were featured in one radio ad. I thought that was a clever way to divide the cost of the radio ads. What else can be done, perhaps a referral network to one another? Or shared resource? Building relationships could also branch into identifying potential people who could work for your business. There are many great people out there that are looking for work. Engaging with some of these good folks will keep your business at the top of mind when it comes time for them to decide where they can contribute.
What other ways that you have experienced when your business was growing? Feel free to share.