As we discussed on Tuesday, it’s almost impossible to balance supply (people) with demand (client work) in a service firm. So how do you grow your firm without going through that see-saw? Here are 4 ways to grow your business without adding more people.
1. Stop Overdelivering.
Yes, if you ask them, your team will tell you how busy they are. If you keep time sheets they will show that they are working 40 – 45 hours. But are they really busy?
Or are they putting that 3rd and 4th revision into something that was fine after 2? Are they responding to that long chain of emails from the client instead of picking up the phone?
The only foolproof way to tell that the team is really busy is if your profit per employee is through the roof. If you aren’t piling up the money then either your prices are too low, or your team isn’t really that busy. A lot of firms that aren’t very profitable, but tell me that their teams are *really busy*, are just overdelivering on every piece of work.
To help curb this overdelivering make sure every assignment in your business has a time budget. How long should this take to complete? How long DID it take to complete…
2. Raise your prices.
If your problem is that you have so much work that you can’t keep up then an easy way to modulate that is by raising prices.
The higher prices will chase away some clients, but those who stay will be more profitable and you won’t have to hire more people. I’ve never worked with a client who couldn’t raise prices and make more money. (More on this in Saturday’s email.)
3. Make people wait.
If everyone is really busy, and you’ve tried raising prices then you tell prospects that you are full and can’t start a new project until [pick a date when you’ll have capacity]. How great would it be to have projects waiting for you when you finish the one you are on? What kind of confidence does it project to the market to tell people to wait?
Bonus, you’ll be shocked at how quickly your team can finish a project when they know that they have work waiting for them.
4. Use freelancers, or part-time, flexible resources.
“You know you can’t hire half a person.”
I hear business owners say that all the time, but it’s completely false!
It’s actually easy to hire a half a person. There are lots of folks who have family situations that mean that they can only work part-time. There are folks who have a passion project, academic pursuit other reason that they don’t want to commit to full-time work.
It can be done.
Having flexible resources as a part of your mix provides capacity in the peak times without adding overhead when times are leaner.
Which of these things would work at your firm (Hint: All of them)? Which would you like to tackle? If you need help deciding, hit reply and we can discuss it!