consulting

Do You Have Too Many Customers?

What do you think is better, 100 customers or 200 customers? It might actually be the lower number, and I’ll explain why.

Let’s say that a small business provides landscaping and maintenance services for both businesses and for residential customers. Most of the customers are within a reasonable driving distance from the main office, and the total amount of customers they have is 200 (50 businesses and 150 residential customers). In order to serve their customers the business has 10 employees and several business vehicles.

After reviewing the amount of services provided to each customer, the owner realizes that it is either unprofitable or only slightly profitable to service a small residential customer, especially if they are more than 15 miles away.

Furthermore, the owner realizes that if an employee performs work for a business customer it tends to be much more profitable because only several are being serviced in one day for a total of eight hours of service performed. For residential customers, only four hours of service is performed after factoring in travel time, plus there are additional costs of travel. Also, the work for business customers tends to be steadier and provides overall higher revenue.

What is one possible solution? The owner may decide that it makes sense to only service business customers. By decreasing the number of customers from 200 to 100, it means that 50 more business customers were acquired, while discontinuing service to 150 residential customers. If each business customer usually receives $5,000 of services per year while each residential customer receives only $1,000, then revenues will actually increase by 25%, while actually decreasing costs.

All you have to do is substitute the type of business with your own, such as computer consulting, printing, medical practices, all types of contractors, and you will get the same results. I believe that serving too many customers even leads business owners to feel that they are busy all of the time without having anything to show for it.

5 Simple Ways to Improve the Management of Your Business for Little to No Cost

The success of your business depends upon how well you manage it. From a start-up all the way to a billion dollar corporation, managing your business well will help to insure its success. Since most businesses are small businesses, here are some ways to help a small business owner.

Answer the Phone: When a customer or prospective customer calls, someone should be available to answer the phone. Struggling business owners tend to have calls go to voicemail where they lose thousands of dollars of potential sales each year by not taking the first step to speak to an interested potential customer or a repeat customer.

Follow-through: Smart business owners quickly follow-up with their customers when they need a service or product. Whether it is a price quote or to gather more information for what is needed, this is crucial. A customer should not have to throw themselves at you.

Don’t do it all yourself: See the first point. You need to delegate tasks, especially those that can be time-consuming and are easily outsourced.  A perfect example is payroll and administrative tasks. The cost of outsourcing payroll is fairly insignificant, but can free up valuable time. Other examples are answering the telephone, cleaning and maintenance, and running simple errands, such as ordering supplies and going to the post office.

Focus and time-management: You pay nothing for this, but yet it can cost you your business. You must focus on the important aspects of your business, with many of them not being urgent. Stop wasting time on non-valuable activities and spend your time doing what matters.

Marketing: Sometimes marketing can be very expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. It can actually be free or cost very little. Usually businesses stop marketing when they are busy, and then cut back on marketing when they are slow. These are both mistakes, as marketing should be done throughout the year, and be budgeted for.

These are just a few of the many ways to manage your business the way it should be managed. Manage it the right way and you will be rewarded.