"Survival of the fittest". It's a term that originated from Darwin's evolutionary theory, describing natural selection. The concept may have started in the 1800s, but it's now more relevant than you'd first think to a modern business world that is swiftly evolving. Even when selling the most traditional of services or products, there's no escape from Darwinism. If you don't have a strong offering and the ability to deliver quickly and meet customer expectations, extinction could be on the horizon.
So, what's the secret to adapting and thriving? Here are three of them to think about:
- Customer experience
- Cash flow
JCurve Solutions has engaged with thousands of businesses over the years ranging from SMEs right through to enterprise organisations. These are three of the top ways that companies have been able to adapt and maintain profitability, helping them to become more successful.
Different businesses can have different definitions of success. For some, success is seeing rapid growth. For others, it's providing services that go above and beyond their competitors. Just about every road to success, though, is paved with profitability. Widening the gap between your costs and your revenue means you can do more. It sounds simple but there are some big challenges to stretching your profit margin.
Let's take a look at those top three secrets and see how they all have a part to play in getting you on the road to faster business success.
"There's no escape from Darwinism. If you don't have a strong offering and the ability to deliver quickly and meet customer expectations, extinction could be on the horizon."
Do you know exactly how long jobs are taking, how much of that time is spent on travel, and what your service people are doing well? These aren't "big brother is watching" kind of questions, they're standard business improvement questions. Becoming more profitable comes back to knowing what's working and what's not. If you're not tracking these kinds of metrics at a minimum, it's time to start.
Knowing which types of jobs are the most labour-intensive helps you estimate future job time and requirements. How many times has one of your service guys been running late to his afternoon appointments because a job in the morning took twice as long as expected? It's not his fault, it's just a lack of visibility. And without that visibility, can't plan out jobs effectively.
Another area of visibility roadblocks is with customers. Instant gratification is a common characteristic of the modern-day customer. Many of them expect fast or real-time progress updates. Providing fast updates about changes to jobs and appointment times, and when a service person is on their way gives your customer visibility. It keeps their expectations realistic and delivers a better customer experience.
Some service companies have a diligent admin or office person who tracks and manages jobs with spreadsheets and keeps customers updated with ETAs and changes. For those who aren't as lucky to have spreadsheet superstars, service management software can help.
"Providing fast updates about changes to jobs and appointment times, and when a service person is on their way gives your customer visibility. It keeps their expectations realistic and delivers a better customer experience."
The customer experience
Customer retention is a crucial ingredient for continued success. Acquiring a new customer vs retaining an existing customer can cost up to 5 times more. That's all additional cost that cuts deep into your profit margin. When you provide a consistently great customer experience, those customers come back to you again.
A study by Bain & Co showed that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% could increase profits anywhere from 25-95%. Service companies today have to wear their customers' shoes, understand what creates that positive experience, and provide the level of service that keeps customers satisfied.
Even if your industry doesn't see a high volume of repeat business, the customer experience can still make a significant difference. Word of mouth is a powerful tool that comes from delivering an excellent customer experience. New customers can be acquired without your business incurring any additional cost at all - the happy customer who's just used your services tells their freind or colleague about that experience. When it's a glowing report, social proof plays an added part in convincing others to get in touch with your company.
To make sure you're providing an experience that customers will love, prioritise these actions:
- Provide continuous, up-to-date communication to customers
- Keeping customer expectations aligned - if things change, re-set the expectation with them ASAP
- Talk to your service people about what a great customer experience looks like for your company
- Gather customer feedback - every job is an opportunity to learn about what they liked or disliked
- Track the customer experience - ask customers how you did, collect the ratings and take note of trends
is a standard requirement for any business unless you want to lose them. Have a personal touch with your customer that always makes you front of mind, then wow them with your service.
"Even if your industry doesn't see a high volume of repeat business, the customer experience can still make a significant difference. Word of mouth is a powerful tool that comes from delivering an excellent customer experience."
Although a company can have fantastic revenue, if the cash from sales isn't in the bank, it puts pressure on the business. Poor collection of cash can ultimately lead to companies having to take-on short-term loans which are costly to the business. Research from EzyCollect shows that once a business starts collecting money online, they get paid 22 percent faster on average in the first month.
Putting payment collection policies and procedures in place can help. Being clear about payment terms with customers helps set the expectations up front. Once work is completed, that "spreadsheets superstar" from your office might even have reminders to chase up payment from the customer.
There are other, more efficient options being driven by cloud-based software though. It's now possible to collect payment before the service person even leaves the site- quickly and securely. Riyo is one software option that provides instant job payment from customers using its mobile-first job management platform. Making payment collection fast and simple also makes things more convenient for your customer and adds to the customer experience.
"It's now possible to collect payment before the service person even leaves the site- quickly and securely. Making payment collection fast and simple also makes things more convenient for your customer and adds to the customer experience."
Survival of the fittest
Getting better visibility of service jobs, delivering an excellent customer experience and bumping up your cash flow are some of the keys to boosting your profit margin and thriving in the modern service business world. But it's sometimes easier said than done. You need the right resources and well-defined process to really put your plans into action.
Many service companies, however, are turning to technology to make short work of the profitability long-game. What kind of tech is the right fit for service companies? Job management software is the name of the game. There are cloud-based options available that give customers real-time updates, live tracking on service resources to know when they're arriving, and automatic SMS notifications for changes and updates. These cloud-based options include automation to reduces manual processes and frees up your staff to concentrate on higher-value, revenue-generating tasks.
This type of software is also helping service companies get a handle on demand fluctuations across seasonal, industry and other unexpected changes. It's helping them up-sell using mobile-first platforms, and collect payment instantly to keep the cash flowing in.
In a modern business environment that's often a game of "survival of the fittest", job management software can help you not only survive, but truly thrive. Check out one of these software options - Riyo - that's helping companies turn their service jobs into "job done".
The below 90-second video gives you some insights on what job management software can do.
Ready to adapt and thrive? Start with your live demo.