At any given time, most cities have an ongoing infrastructure project that seems to take longer than necessary. Snarled traffic, endless lines of cars, and the ever present orange barrel. A sign has started appearing in those situations. It says “Rome wasn’t built in a day. If it was, we would have hired those engineers.”
It’s clever way to remind people that progress requires patience. Similarly, great service provider businesses aren’t built overnight. They require continual improvement and commitment to doing the hard things well. At some point, you simply have to get started. It may be challenging. But the results will be worth it.
You don’t like the congestion from all the construction, but you sure love the quick commute home on fresh road when it is done.
There are quite a few steps included in this blog series, which may seem daunting. But I want to make it seem less so. The process of transforming your Service Provider business can really be broken down into three broad categories.
- Market differentiation: understand your differentiated story in the market.
- Sales transformation: ensure your sales team is having the right conversations with the right people.
- Operational efficiency: grow revenue without a proportionate increase in operational overhead
The market is becoming more crowded and everyone seems to be telling the same story. You need to know why you are better and tell that story in a way that connects to your target customers. Spend time talking to your current customers about why they choose you. Do some market research about how your competitors are positioning themselves, and reflect on where you think you excel by comparison. Once you gather all of this, you’ll be able to craft a story that illustrates why you are better and different than everyone else.
Your sales team must be able to show the customer a way forward. They need to paint a picture that shows the customers a vision for the future that is attainable, with your help. Your prospective customers are looking for a path forward. They don’t know where they need to go and they don’t know what they don’t know. Your sales team can be effective simply taking orders and providing quotes. But, that isn’t the way to grow. You’ll need to be able to lay out a vision for your customer of where things are going and how you can help them get there.
You’ve hired more people, but you can’t seem to break through to greater profitability. For your business to grow and scale, you are going to need to pivot from people-delivered services to process-delivered services. Along the way, you should be looking to automate anything that can be automated. Processes and automation allow you to drive efficiency in your operations. If your costs and your revenues are growing in lockstep, this is where you need to focus your time. You need to create operational leverage so your can grow your revenues at a disproportionate rate relative to costs of goods.
None of the above are easy. I get it. But, they are worth it. If you want to build long term value in your organization, you need to take on these initiatives. There is typically little enthusiasm for big infrastructure projects when they are proposed–too expensive, too ambitious, too disruptive. But when when the projects are done and traffic is flowing smoothly or the light rail system runs on time, I’m sure residents couldn’t ever conceive of NOT doing a project that yields those results. In the same way, your team will wonder why you are putting them through this process of improvement, but I promise, they’ll enjoy the results at the end!