Bonuses to Lockdown - Don't kill time, reinvest it Apr 21, 2020Views: 474
Quarantine, lockdown and social distancing are a nightmare for service businesses everywhere, large, small and everything in between. Traditional uses of slow time just will not cut it in these desperate times. So many articles want to talk about how to use all of this "free time" we have now, but if you run a service business, this simply means it's time to catch up and make improvements without incoming revenue.
Now it's time to do the things that always seemed like a good idea, but you never had the time. Some of them could help you survive the economic backlash after the viral pandemic has passed. Maybe you will find a new niche that will help you expand your business.
Admin Catch-up - there's always something
However organised you are, there is always something that gets left. Whether you reorganise your filing system or clear out your old files, there's something you can do to make sure you always know where to find the information you need. Maybe you can scan your invoices onto a computer, so they're easily accessible but not taking up filing space.
Clear out and Simplify -
We all do it, continue to do something just because it's the way we always have. An "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to business administration is common, but it's not the most efficient or economical solution.
Now that you have the time on your hands - that pesky coronavirus is keeping your clients away - you can take a harsh look at how you manage your business.
When you grow a business from the beginning, or even if you take over from someone else, there are processes involved, which adjust organically. Unfortunately, unless you reorganise and adapt from the ground up, there are always some redundancies. They hum along in the background; adding to your workload and not doing anything productive.
Now is the time to weed out all of those sticky little jobs and reduce the time spent on duplicating tasks.
The worst culprits for this are online software subscriptions. You sign up for a small monthly subscription, and later on, when you no longer use it, you forget about it or work on the idea that "it might come in useful".
There's a small but pointless trickle of money leaking from your business every month you let these subscriptions persist.
Go through your monthly outgoings and match up every little leak with an essential business requirement. Do you have two separate subscriptions that can do the same job? Get rid of one.
Extra recurring expenses that leak from your business could be a news or industry publication subscription. You sign up for a free trial or a discounted start-up subscription because you think it will be useful. Then you forget about the recurring monthly fee at the end of the trial period and only remember to cancel when it makes a regular disappearance from your bank account. How many business subscriptions do you really need? The answer is probably only one, but check the last time you accessed the publications to which you subscribe. If you haven't used the subscription over the previous three months, it's not working for you.
Another outgoing expense that doesn't benefit you could be professional memberships. These are sneaky because they tend to be annual subscriptions or longer. If you receive a business benefit from being a member such as meeting an industry standard for membership, then you should keep it going. However, some of these subscriptions merely put your name on a list and give you no credible advantage. Pick the memberships that provide you with validity, credit, and exposure. Get rid of the ones that do nothing.
Streamline and Consolidate
How many pieces of software and tools do you use to manage your business? Which one does the most work for you? Can you integrate each piece seamlessly to maintain control of your
That's the boring stuff out of the way. Now comes the fun stuff, safe in the knowledge that you'll return to a fully functioning business with all the boring and annoying tasks in order.
Create Content — Contact & Communication
If you haven't started blogging about your business, clients, and love of your industry, now it's time. Talk to your customers through your blog. Share your appreciation for your clients and the joys they bring to your work. Images and videos of you performing your "magic" or great outcomes for your clients are excellent ways for you to reach your clients. Encourage them to talk back.
How is your social media game? In these times of quarantine and lockdown, sheer boredom is taking more people down the rabbit hole of social media. As that is the case, give them something 'real' with which they can engage. Nothing needs to be perfect. Everyone is working on an imperfect level at the moment. Maybe you can show a video of you disinfecting your premises, complete with scruffy clothes, gloves, facemask and cleaning gear. It's current, it's funny, and it lets your client know their safety is important to you. You could do the same if you have redecorated in the enforced downtime.
Identifying Trends, New Ideas, and Service Development
Whatever your service provision, you always get suggestions and service enhancement requests in your feedback - someone ALWAYS wants more than you already provide. Why not see if you develop your services to include requests and suggestions from your clients? When you have identified these areas for development, make a plan for introducing them.
Can you do an online course that will let you provide the services that clients requested? Maybe it's merely a case of adaptation or new equipment.
In a similar vein to checking for suggestions and requests, see what you can do about any negative feedback. Any niggling negatives that come up frequently? Make a big deal of improving or eradicating the situation. Let your clients know that you've fixed the problem, made the change that they've requested.
What can you do to improve the way you do business? Can you add a skill to your repertoire? If there is something that you can learn while your business is on hiatus, that will bring MORE clients back to your door, take the time and opportunity to do it.
While you're checking through your feedback, reviews and customer contacts, you can spot your service trends, your "VIP" customers - those who come back repeatedly, tipping well when they do -, your most popular services, and your most profitable ones, too.
When you identify your slow periods, you can double down on marketing, and schedule in another admin catch-up.
While you're working through all of your trends, you can also look for ways to expand your business. If you run a spa or salon, could you diversify into making all-natural products? It offers a retail addition to your service business that can weather periods of isolation.
No matter what your business is, you can probably find ways to extend your service provision - even if it is only short term. A barbershop in my hometown is offering video calls where they help you cut your partner's hair...
Don't give up, do what you can
There is so much that you can do to pare down the expenses of a stagnating business. Try to view all of this 'extra' time as an opportunity to reinvest in your company, career, and clients. Take this unexpected and potentially destructive bag of lemons and start a lemonade delivery service. Okay, perhaps not, but you have many options available to you - even if it means changing the direction of your business for a while.
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