Three questions small businesses should ask themselves moving into the new normal
10 years ago, it was all about how big, impressive, and flashy your business was. The impossibly perfect stock images on your site. The swanky city office that was miles away from where you actually were. IVR systems that you thought sounded professional but drove customers crazy while they waited for departments that didn’t exist. And then the ever so “we are big” national telephone numbers. Everything to make you look bigger than you actually were.
A wave of independents showed us that, actually, smaller is cooler. Smaller businesses seem more accountable. They’ve got your best interests at heart because it benefits them. You’re not just there for them to vacuum money from. You saw it in the energy industry with smaller, emerging brands and their great value and customer service. Aldi and Lidl knocked the likes of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Marks and Spencer off their perch with their cheaper offerings and alternative home brands. Now every industry wants a bit of that.
People don’t want to be sold to anymore. Everyone is much savvier and know when they are being treated like a cash machine. Gone are the days of ‘the bigger the better’. Now it’s all about thinking smaller and working smarter. So how do you keep that small business attitude? Here are three questions you can ask yourself.
Do I want to be profit-led or client-led?
Most businesses want to make money. But if you’re just chasing profit, you’re not focusing on your clients. We all know about the big businesses who put their money into their shareholders’ pockets. So why not put your focus on your clients? They never want to feel like just another number; if they do, there’s nothing stopping them from jumping over to one of your competitors.
The ‘stack them high and sell it cheap’ approach doesn’t work anymore. 60% of happy and valued customers buy more from you and 90% of them will happily refer you to others. By turning your attention to other areas of your business, such as investment in your customer service, you can provide exceptional value. Your clients will appreciate this, which turns into more custom. You still get the profits, but you go about it in a different way that puts the client first. You don’t need the mad scramble for market share; earn their loyalty with your authenticity and service.
Should we work from home or move into an office?
Shakespeare once said, “to work from home or not to work from home, that is the question”. Well, not exactly, but close enough. It’s a question plenty of businesses have been thinking about over the past five or so years.
Thanks to COVID-19, the decision was made for us – with some surprising results. A recent report by O2 shows 45% of Brits predict a permanent change when it comes to working from home and a flexible working approach.
With a small investment in infrastructure and technology, you can easily support working from home – hopefully without the kids walking into shot; just ask Professor Robert Kelly from that infamous BBC interview. There’s a lot you can gain by stepping away from the traditional office setup. Not only can you have a positive effect on your staff’s work-life balance, but you can also greatly reduce costly overheads and instead focus on improving your service for your clients.
Should I employ or outsource?
No matter how big and small your company is, most businesses need to cover the same departments to be successful:
- Customer service
And that’s before you consider what it is you went into business to do in the first place.
The good news is that you don’t have to do everything yourself. But hiring talent full-time is a big drain on time and money. You have to review and interview candidates, figure out whether they fit into your culture, wait to see if they accept the job, and then train them up. Then you have to think about the fact some people find working with a small family business more attractive than going with one of the big boys.
Thankfully, you don’t have to go through all that. You can outsource the work, skip the costs of recruiting and can just run with a lean workforce. What’s important is you find a company that has the same values as you – someone you can trust to do a high-quality job.
More and more, consumers are turning their back on the bigger businesses in search of smaller companies that put them first and care about clients over profits. Working smart and investing in the right areas allows you to focus on putting your customer first and delivering real value. It’s good to remember that you don’t have to do everything alone – that what customers want is real people and authentic service.
You have enough to worry about within your business without stretching your resources too thin recruiting into areas of the business you don’t need to. Our 24/7 expert call answering services give you the ability to add support across several departments without pricey wage bills.