How to scale services
What's in this article
By Tiina Wilen
Services are notoriously difficult to scale. The more “creative” your solution is, the harder it is to scale. However, if your goal is to scale your service firm, you need to shift your focus from doing one-time work with high complexity and customization to more streamlined deliveries with specific milestones and deliverables.
Scale happens when you create a product or service that will allow you to reach the size you want as easily as possible. This means you have a possibility to grow your sales and delivery without hitting the ceiling or running into trouble with quality. It also means that you can grow your revenue while you don’t grow the cost of doing business linearly.
This can be hard to achieve if you sell services that require touchpoints with lots of personalization. However, it’s not impossible if you know how to pull it through.
The strategy is to start thinking about your services as a product.
Products solve problems for users, so you need to turn your service into a product with a certain outcome, features, and functionality. A productized service means you have a certain way of delivering the results, you have a well-scoped offer with specific deliverables and often; a fixed price. Your productized offer works in the same way for every customer, always. The outcome might be different, but the process is always the same.
For example, an interior architecture firm offers a 1-day design package. It covers the whole house, and the outcome is a complete style and color suggestion delivered with samples and instructions for putting it together. If the customer is happy, they can continue to the design management project, which is offered based on the outcome from the design package. If the customer decides to continue with some other alternatives, the work is done. The key: this offer is easy to sell, easy-to-buy, and easy-to-deliver, and even if the actual design scheme is bespoke, the process to get there is highly standardized.
Here are 4 simple steps to turn your creative, bespoke service into a scalable product offer without losing quality
1. You need to know who you want
Because scaling your service means that you need to standardize your offers, you need to know who is going to buy it, and then find several similar customers. Which ones of your current customers are the most fun to work with? Which ones are profitable?
When you create standardized offers, your goal is not to sell all-the-things-to-all-the-people but focus on selling your package, and sell it multiple times to multiple customers, rinse and repeat. That’s why you need to design a product that solves your favorite customers’ problems.
2. Identify the milestones
What are the milestones that your favorite customers go through? I bet your customers have multiple problems and need multiple solutions, and yes, you can offer all of them, but to scale your business, you need to focus on solving the most critical problem first. Turn your whole delivery scope into a roadmap and structure the specific milestones that your customers go through to get to their end goals.
3. Pick the first milestone
What is the first major milestone they all need to get solved? Create a packaged offer that solves that and only that. Give this offer its own identity, make it “The Thing” your customer needs to buy, preferably immediately. This becomes a no-brainer for your customer, it’s your Essential Offer. Once you start marketing “The Thing”, new customers will come to you to get “The Thing”. That’s making your sales process very effective!
4. Create a process and train your team to deliver it
You don’t have to be the one who is delivering this product, your team members can do it equally well, and in fact, in most cases much better than you, the owner. Once you have packaged your Signature Essential Offer, you train your trusted team members to deliver exactly according to the process, while you focus on the overall business objectives.
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