Pop quiz. Which sounds better—offering one, specialized service or expanding to offer many services to customers?
For many small businesses, it may be a good idea to expand. Here’s why.
If you go “too narrow,” meaning you hone in on one service, you can run the risk of losing customers down the line. Your business also may be less agile, making it more difficult to survive an economic downturn.
If you’re thinking about expanding your service offerings or product line, you may be on the right track. Here are a few great reasons for doing so, and how you can get started.
This may sound pretty obvious, but it’s funny how many small business owners overlook this idea. More services can likely equal more customers. That’s because people have varied needs. If they don’t find what they’re looking for at your establishment, they may quickly go elsewhere.
Here are a few examples of how small business owners can expand their services to reel in more customers:
Florists—Already have a brick and mortar shop, but slim on your online presence? You may want to reconsider your approach. Ask customers if they want digital ordering and delivery. If you see a market need, then add it to your list of offerings.
Barbers—Not all hair stylists offer a close shave for men—only licensed barbers. If you see a market need, get a license and add it to your service mix. I’ve also seen barbers sell beer, wine, and snacks at their shops. The key is to ask your customers what they need. Then, start offering it.
Makeup artists—Maybe you have a successful cosmetology business that’s focused on weddings. Great! But do your customers also want to buy the products you use? You can try selling everything from hair gels to makeup, especially for companies who employ brand ambassadors.
Marketing consultants—Maybe you’re a great copywriter or designer. But do you have experience creating marketing plans? Executing search engine optimization or Google AdWords campaigns? Building websites? Chances are, your customers need a full-service approach to campaigns.
Landscapers—You specialize in mowing lawns, but have you noticed your customers need snow removal in the winter? Make your business successful year-round by clearing driveways and helping to plow roads.
Accidents, injuries, and unfortunately, lawsuits can happen to any business. But when you have extra income as padding, you’re more likely to survive financially.
Adding a new service or product line can help your business earn more revenue and survive unexpected circumstances.
It’s also important to get business insurance early on to protect all of the services you provide as a business owner. General liability insurance can help cover you financially if there’s an accident, injury, or damage to your business’s property.
Meanwhile, professional liability insurance can offer coverage if someone accuses you of negligence, libel, slander, or copyright infringement.
Depending on what you do, both policies are important for most small business owners.
Keep in mind that if you already have business insurance and decide to add a new service to your offerings, you may need to check with your agent to make sure you’re still covered.
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Markets can be volatile. They go up and down, depending on supply and demand, the government, and international relations. On a smaller scale, your customers have periods of time when they don’t need to buy your product or service.
Maybe you’re a florist or makeup artist and the “do-it-yourself” approach becomes more popular for weddings. Anything can happen, and you need to be prepared. If you offer more services, you’re more likely to survive unexpected changes. For example, a makeup artist can offer online tutorials to teach brides how to do their own makeup.
Ultimately, your goal should be to satisfy customers. If you do this, you’re more likely to run a successful business. And, the happier your customers are, the more likely they are to recommend you to friends and buy from you instead of competitors.
Offering more than one service demonstrates that you know your customers’ needs and listen. It also shows your appreciation for them.
So, how can you get started adding to your list of services? First, it’s critical to take time to map out a plan. Otherwise, you may be unprepared, and at best, make customers unhappy. At worst, you risk a major financial loss.
If you’re close to your customers, you may already know what services and products they need. But it helps to confirm your gut instinct. Send out customer surveys, conduct informal interviews, and do online market research. You might learn something new.
It’s tricky to learn a completely new skill. Do you have skills up your sleeve that meet your customers’ needs? If so, it’ll feel natural to add a new service to your business. If you do need additional training to offer something new, consider the costs and benefits. It may be worth it.
Did you make a small business plan at the get-go? It’s time to revisit it. A solid business plan can help you identify your target market, their needs, and help you map out a plan to win over competitors. If you don’t have a small business plan now, just follow our business plan template!
There are two ways to offer new services. The first is to create a completely new offering. The second is to create a new version of your current offering. Like ice cream, you can have one, main product with many different flavors. Decide which approach works best for your business. Then sit down to brainstorm. Get creative and don’t cut out any idea until your brainstorm session is done.
Once you launch a new service, test how it performs. Remember, don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t take off right away. Instead, investigate how price and positioning makes a difference. It’s a process, and sometimes it takes time to learn what works and what doesn’t. Be willing to learn and stay persistent. If you do, you’ll find a new service will eventually resonate in the market.
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.