4 Overlooked Strategies to Grow Your Service Business

No doubt, the economic climate for small business owners is tense and tight these days. That guaranteed income from yesterday is a hit or miss crap shoot today. On top of that, every time you turn around there is a new competitor springing up in your area, vying for the customers you worked so hard to acquire.

How can you stay above water when it seems all external forces are working against you?

Now is not the time for business as usual. It’s time to get creative and think outside-of-the-box for ways to increase profit. It’s always a good idea to tweak the services you offer to keep them fresh and competitive.

Lets go over a few techniques that I am using to diversify my computer consulting business that can easily be translated to your own service business.

1. Provide Optional Add-ons for Existing Products or Services

This is akin to the drive-through attendant asking if you’d like “fries with that.” Take a look at your primary product or service and brainstorm ways you can add low-cost options.

For me, I’m doing this by offering the “Go Green” service, for a small fee, as an add-on to my primary computer support services. Customers who choose the “Go-Green” option will receive a personal eco-consultation from me. For example, if a customer prefers to leave their computer on while they are at work or asleep, I’ll show them how to set their operating system to automatically fall into sleep mode and eventually hibernate, to conserve energy.

Also, I instruct them on responsible disposal of things like printer ink and computer parts. Finally, I take a look at the surge protectors they are using and adivse them on adjustments they can make, like turning off the entire surge protector to ensure peripherals don’t draw power when they aren’t in use. It takes about 20 minutes of my time, and I charge about 20% of my normal hourly rate for the service.

Options such as this are important to business growth. You are showing your customers that you’re willing to take the time to go above and beyond what the “big boys” are offering in personal service. Pricing will vary, but make sure the add-on services are around 10-30% of what customers will be paying for your primary services, that way they’ll be more enticed to spend the extra money.

2. Partner with Other Small Businesses

Collaboration is a luxury many small businesses seem to overlook. Maybe the fear of competition causes business owners to choose a solitary existence, but if you can find a business that is not a direct competitor of yours, it may be in your best interest to team up and pool your resources and your customers.

In the online world, this is easily accomplished through affiliate deals and cross-promotion, but what about in the physical world? I’m working on teaming up with local computer hardware and software vendors as obvious partners to compliment my computer repair services. But you can take it a step further by experimenting with some non-traditional partnerships. A housecleaning and lawn care business could team up to sell “inside and out home makeovers”. The possibilities are limitless!

3. Package Deals

Going back to my fast-food analogy, package deals are like your “value meal.” Bundling your products together is a great strategy to get others to consider certain offerings that they may not have considered otherwise. In my business I’m combining my stand-alone services of virus cleaning, computer tune-up, and data backup into one “ultimate package” for a price that is less than what they would pay for all the services separately.

You should still offer all of your regular stand-alone services alongside the bundles. This way your customers can really see the value of the package versus the a la carte stuff. By combining your services together, you save time and resources, and the customer saves money. This is a win-win situation!

4. Volunteer

This may not seem like the most obvious way to gain more customers, but there’s no better way to get your name out to the community in a positive light than volunteering your services for a charity or local organization. In a small way, I’ve been doing this by volunteering to work on computers for friends and family. This helps ensure that they spread the word of my services to their friends and acquaintances, creating the word-of-mouth traction that is vital to any start-up. Soon I will volunteer my services to schools and retirement homes.

Four or 8 hours a week should be enough to make a lasting impression on your community. It’s also a great opportunity for you to hone your skills and practice new service strategies. Make sure you highlight some of your volunteer work on your website or in your advertising as well.

When times are tough, think outside of the box for options that your customers will care about. The results will be more business, higher esteem, and increased revenue. These are just a few of the ideas I’ve come up with to expand my services. What are some things that you can implement right now to give your business a competitive edge?

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Matt Rodela, aka Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer GuyAbout the Author: Matt Rodela, aka Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy, writes about his  experiences running a part-time computer consulting business on his blog, http://www.yfncg.com.


23 Reactions
  1. Hi Matt – These are outstanding strategies! I’d like to elaborate on #2 (Partnering) because I’m currently doing this strategy and am finding it unbelievably rewarding for ALL parties. The wonderful thing about this strategy is the energizing lift and creative influx that results from pulling resources together.

    You can partner with a competitor (really). Go to someone in a similar business and see if you can service customers or clients that left or decided NOT to use them, then offer a referral fee to your competitor. I honestly feel that every business is different and this gives BOTH of you the opportunity to recoup lost revenue AND offer service to clients. Or perhaps your competitor has a weakness where you are strong – work together with that.

    You can co-brand a product or service with another. We see this with food all the time — (Oreo cookies and ice cream) but what about service businesses? Who can you collaborate with and co-brand?

    I’m so excited about this strategy it’s increased my business significantly – I would love to hear what others are doing with this strategy and the others you’ve mentioned.

  2. Hi Matt,
    Great job with a real Hot Button article, for me. Being a service business owner who has experienced tough times, it is crucial to start thinking of add-on services and products that will help my clients and customers, and at the same time increase revenue.

    The Franchise King, Joel Libava

  3. @Ivana – I totally agree with your take on partnering! Partnering with a competitor will also give you someone to refer your clients to if you need to take some time off for whatever reason.

    @Joel – You’re right, it is crutial to take a look at your services to see what you can tweak or refresh in order to stay ahead.

  4. Great post. Especially like the idea to partner with other small businesses. We’re all working toward the same goal, so why not collaborate? You mention collaborating in the online world and in the offline world. But another great idea would be to connect with other businesses online to connect offline. It’s so much easier to find business and individuals online, and to start a conversation about partnerships. Once these relationships are established, they can be taken offline and applied to the physical businesses.

  5. Echoing the comments that have been made about collaboration, I think too few businesses recognize the contractual flexibility that they really have when consider how and with whom to do business. Collaboration and innovation is what really drives the economy regardless of overall circumstances. Volunteering is also an excellent way build that sense of community and interact with both potential clients as well as potential collaborators. The key is to be flexible and open to opportunities that come to you.

  6. @Erin – Great idea for approaching collaboration. It truly is much easier to find people and connect online. But don’t neglect offline opportunities like small business associations and trade meetings as places to connect with potential collaborators.

    @Robert – “The key is to be flexible and open to opportunities that come to you.” Well said Robert. Making yourself available to opportunities is not enough, you have to have the flexibility to be bale to take those opportunities and apply them to your business.

  7. When I’m shopping for a service, I always look to see if there is a package deal. If there is and it will save me some bucks, I almost always choose that option. I agree that you must show the services separately in order to express the “deal” that they are getting. Everyone always likes thinking and seeing that they are getting a bargain.

  8. I also like your post. I would like to add the philosophy that if you are out to help others achieve their goals you in turn will achieve yours. So its about finding those unique opportunities where your products or service will add value and contribute to an enhanced rewarding experience for all concerned.

  9. @Ivana – I totally agree with the concept of ‘teaming up’ with your competitors to capitalize on lost potential.

    As a Virtual Assistant very often there are services I don’t offer or am not skilled at and refer to a fellow VA and vice versa. This has worked out nicely in many instances.

  10. @Amanda – Yes, packaging is a powerful tool. But it’s even more powerful when shown side-by-side with the more expensive single services.

    @Justin – Well said Justin. That’s a very good point. Consumers are smart (and jaded) these days, and if you’re services aren’t truly adding value to their lives, they’ll see through any kind of fancy gimmickry and go elsewhere.

    @Linda – Great point about teaming with others to pool talent. I am sure in the VA world this strategy is extremely useful.

  11. Thanks for showing on how to add value to your business.

  12. I love this idea Matt -> 2. Partner with Other Small Businesses! It is often overlook that in order to thrive and win over these tough economic times is through collaborating and helping not just your business but your partner’s business as well. Just imagine if business A partners with B, B to C, C to D and so on and so forth. Just imagine the positive domino effect of helping each other.

  13. It is interesting that for the last couple of months marketing and business consultants have started to do what you are suggesting and are coming to us to partner.

    I also think it is about taking the time to really understanding your customers problems and needs as they will give very big hints on how you can add value if you ask the right questions.

    I love your idea about volunteering.

  14. Good points particularly partnering with other small businesses or joint ventures as i call it. It is so cheap to do, very powerful and very effective. I have made a lot of money from doing JV’s but so many people fail to use it as an option and i don’t know why.

  15. #2 is definitely true. The more you try to offer everything to a client the more likely you are to mess up, and lose your “top dog” image in his eyes. Find useful complementary businesses to trade services with, and you’ll offer better value to your clients.

  16. Sounds like collaboration and partnerships are a popular growth strategy! I may have to write another article to dig deeper into that subject!

  17. General networking as well. When things are a bit slower, people need to get creative and work a bit harder. Revenue is still there, it just needs to be focussed.

  18. We have also realized that you can’t keep doing the same old things that worked before- the environment has changed to you need to think and act differently and staying positive is key. Thanks for the tips.
    Check out my blog http://tinyurl.com/cjcwcy

  19. Now it time to move on in business competition, to increase your business you can use remote services like one provided by Sacatech.