How to make your service-based business stand out
Today we are going to talk about how to make your service-based business stand out from the crowd. You might think you need to dress up all the time, wear makeup, and be really present on social media.
I've just been hearing some horror stories about bookkeepers, tax preparers, and service providers in general, who are out there doing all the things on social media. But when you sign up with them and the work isn't great. It's not getting done on time though. And the level of communication is not good.
In order for your business to stand out, focus on the client experience
What I really want you to spend a lot of time focusing on is the client experience. I will tell you that one happy client is worth more than all the social media. Because that client is going to tell everybody about you.
There are a lot of courses out there that spend so much time focusing on the acquisition of clients but they're not spending enough time talking about how to actually service those clients once you have them. So let's talk a little bit today about making your service-based business stand out from the crowd by providing awesome customer service.
What does the initial contact process look like?
First off, I want you to think about what the initial contact process looks like. When somebody reaches out to you via social media, email, or your website, what does that initial interaction with you look like?
That initial interaction will set the tone for the rest of the relationship. You need to have a plan and a process in place. In Bookkeeper Training School, we teach that that process should be having a booking software such as Calendly, Acuity, Book like a Boss, or anything you want. But you need to have something so that people can book an appointment with you. Having a very smooth process for people to book with you is very important.
Even if you don't have a piece of software, write back and say, "Here are three times that I have available next week. Do any of those times work for you?" Try to minimize the back and forth. But having a booking software that works well is a great way to do that. Most booking software will check your calendar and make sure that that time is actually open. It will check everything before someone can book an appointment with you.
In order for your business to stand out define what you're going to talk about during the initial call
Second, I want you to know what you're going to talk about on that initial call. Make sure you have a questionnaire that you send out in advance. Because when you're going to hop on a call with somebody for 15 minutes, you want to use that 15 minutes getting to know the person so that you're comfortable with sending them a proposal. But if you spend that entire time asking questions, you are going to be so focused on gathering that information that you're not going to be focused on if you like this person and feel like you can work for him/her.
What does that look like? Do you have a questionnaire you send out in advance to get information? What are you going to talk about on that call?
What does your proposal process look like?
Then once you know that you will be a good fit, what does your proposal process look like? How do you send out a proposal? Are you going to send it out just as an email and then if they accept it, you send your contract? Do you send it out and then schedule another call to discuss it?
What does your contract and payment process look like?
Once you've defined what the proposal process looks like for you, then you need to define what your contract will look like. As a service provider you always have to have a contract so you don't get burned. Define how you are going to have them sign the contract. And then what does your first payment process look like? You're probably going to send them an invoice. And you can automate this to go out on a monthly basis.
In order for your business to stand out, have a clearly defined onboarding process
After that has been defined, you need to know what your onboarding process looks like. As you are going through this process, create a list of all of the documents that you're going to get from the client. Give them a deadline for when you need those documents, and then book an onboarding meeting. This onboarding meeting is to make sure that you have access to everything you need in order to be able to do the work.
As a service provider, you're going to need access to passwords and usernames. I'd recommend using a password vault for those things. If you're a bookkeeper, you want to make sure that all of the accounts are connected or that you have your own access so that you can connect the accounts.
Create your "How I Work" document
After you've defined what your onboarding process looks like, you need to have a "How I Work" document that you send to your clients. And I would send this with the contract or with the proposal. But the goal of that is to say how your client can communicate with you, and when they can expect to hear back from you. Information such as:
- When the work will typically be done during the month
- The hours that you generally are available for contact.
- If they want to have a meeting with you, how do they schedule that meeting? And how much does it cost if it's not included in your proposal?
Define what your process looks like if you aren't getting what you need from your client
Once you've created your "How I Work" document, then you need to define what your process is if your client doesn't provide you with the documents you need. What does that process look like? How often do you follow up with them?
So if by the 10th of the month, you do not have all their documents. What do you do? Do you send an email, text?
In order for your business to stand out create standard operating procedures
All of these procedures become your business's standard operating procedures or SOPs. The more SOPs you have in your business, the easier it is to put your business on autopilot.
A lot of times what happens with small businesses is that when things start to go wrong, you start spiraling with negative thoughts. "Something is wrong. They don't like me. Or they don't want to work with me anymore." But if you
have all these procedures in place, you just follow the steps. This helps you run your business.
You are not going to identify all the issues the first time you onboard a client. You are going to mess up your first contract. There are going to be things you're going to wish you had included. So next time you're going to put that in the contract. Because you cannot think of every single thing that has to be in every contract or has to be in every document. Every discovery call you do is going to make the next one better.
What can you learn from the mistakes in your business?
And so I want you to think about all this as a learning process. So next time something goes wrong in your business, ask yourself what you can learn from it. You need to know that it's not a failure, it's a lesson for improvement.
That is one thing we work on in Bookkeeper Training School. It's one of the reasons why I think community is so important. You can see things that others are doing that will benefit you. Things you wouldn't have thought to put in your contract, or questions you wouldn't have thought to ask in a discovery call.
When things go wrong, contact your client immediately
Really think about these processes and know what it looks like to work with you if you want to stand out from the crowd. If something goes awry contact your clients immediately. Let's say if you get injured, sick, or aren't going to be able to deliver on time, let them know right away. Because clients get antsy when their service providers disappear.
If you have gotten behind, or think you're going to get behind, just reach out to your clients. Don't give them a rosy overenthusiastic deadline, give a realistic deadline. Because when you do that and you finish before the deadline, you're going to look like a superhero. So think about the deadlines that you give.
But honestly, in this day and age, it's not hard to be a service provider superstar. Be honest with your clients. Have a clear process for how you do things and communicate.
Let me know if you have any questions about this, especially those of you that are in Bookkeeper Training School. You can always ask questions. You can go to askkristin.net and fill out the form. If you're in Bookkeeper Training School, we'll answer them on our live calls. If you're not in Bookkeeper Training School, we will use them as a podcast episode, Facebook live, or other free content.