Editor’s Note: The following article is brought to you by MyTaskit in partnership with the ForConstructionPros.com.
Scaling can be difficult because it means changing your processes to suit a much larger team of employees and a growing number of customers. Maintaining personalized and attentive customer relationships is far easier with a handful of customers than it is with hundreds. Duties that you and your team handled manually in a company of ten employees cannot continue to be managed manually in a company of 100 employees. Internal processes that used to require one person — from accounting and marketing, to scheduling and servicing — may now require a team of people.
By learning from common mistakes other companies make, you can get organized and tackle the challenges of scaling head on. Be aware of the following pitfalls that come with scaling a company, so you can take steps ahead of time to avoid these blunders and make the process smoother for everyone.
Pitfall: Increasing Complexity Reduces Efficiency
As companies grow in size, they grow in complexity. Everything requires more — more meetings, more decision-makers, more people in the workflow, more cogs in the machine. Unsurprisingly, the increasing complexity of processes and teams can slow your company down and hamper growth.
It is critical to manage and reduce complexity wherever possible as your company scales. Define roles for each team member, and understand that these roles must change as the company grows. For instance, an employee that was consulted on every decision when the company had 15 employees cannot be consulted on every decision as it grows to 150 employees. Be sure to clearly document and communicate any changes in internal processes and responsibilities of key roles to your entire staff.
Even if your company reduces its complexity, your employees are likely to have more demands on their time. To relieve the burden on them and keep your company running efficiently, turn to automation tools. Any processes that can be automated should be — especially those that are tedious and recurring.
Have every department examine its existing processes to find ways to make them run more smoothly. Can the service team use workforce management software to receive and respond to customer service requests? Can your managers use a smart tracking tool to monitor schedules, time, and labor digitally? Can your finance team find software to accomplish repetitive data entry, so they can focus on larger responsibilities?
Repetitive work should be taken out of employees’ hands so they are freed up to get more important work done, faster.
Pitfall: Balancing Between Existing Customers and New Ones
Your existing customers have been with you since the beginning — they carried your company to where it is today — so keeping them happy should be your number one priority, right? After all, increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.
On the other hand, you need new customers to grow. So, maybe finding new customers should be the top priority?
The truth is that successful scaling requires prioritizing both approaches. You must keep your existing customers happy, while simultaneously attracting and delighting new customers. This is a tall order that requires a careful balancing act from your team.
There are a few things your company can do to make it easier for your employees to balance their attention between existing and new customers, such as:
- Share customer information across the organization. As your company grows, customer information can no longer be stored exclusively in one department, or with one person. Customer and prospect data needs to be accessible across the company.
- Automate reminders regarding customer accounts. Don’t rely on individual employees to keep track of important customer milestones or upcoming account maintenance. As your customer base grows, employees will (understandably) struggle to keep up. Instead, automate these reminders. This not only ensures that customers receive the attention they need, but also frees up employees from having to remember schedules so they can focus on delivering a great customer experience.
- Do special things for existing customers — not just new leads. Customers often feel the warm glow of special attention as a company courts their business, but this can wear off as the sales team moves on to new prospects. Make an effort to reach out to existing customers every so often, just to check in. Send them thank-you cards expressing your appreciation for their business. Consider a promotional offer or gift for longstanding, loyal customers to show them they matter. Keep the spark alive.
Customer relationship management and workforce management software can help you stay organized as you balance your efforts between keeping your existing customers satisfied, and attracting new customers. Keep in mind that retaining existing customers and earning their loyalty will draw in new customers through referrals. Win-win.
Pitfall: New Technology and Infrastructure are Required to Scale
You may have noticed that recommendations for reducing complexity, improving efficiency, and maintaining customer service often involve adopting new tools and software. Finding the right technology to support your employees is critical as your company scales — emphasis on the right technology.
Your employees need easy-to-use tools for managing communications, coordinating service, and more. What you don’t want is technology that will take months to learn, only to complicate processes that should be simple.
Evaluate whether a new technology is right for your company by asking:
- What will be the return on investment? Bells and whistles don’t matter if they don’t improve your profit margin. Assess what benefits the new technology can offer your teams, and how those benefits translate to your bottom line in the form of increased productivity, improved efficiency, reduced downtime, or other added value.
- Does this tool simplify processes? If a new technology is too complicated to use, it will only slow down your team as the company grows. Be sure to seek out a demo or presentation to see if the technology is user-friendly before you invest in it.
- Does it reduce the employee workload? Technology can automate a wide variety of processes — but if those processes aren’t relevant to your employees’ day-to-day work, the tech won’t have a big impact on their workloads. Be sure to choose a software tool that’s relevant to the work your employees do, especially if it can automate daily tasks that take up much of your employees’ time.
- Does this technology have the ability to scale and grow with my company? Software that meets your needs today may not meet your needs three years down the road, when you have more customers and employees. Make sure you choose tools that can scale with your company.
Investing in technology and infrastructure can be expensive. As a result, too many companies put off implementing new digital tools, ultimately hindering their efficiency and making it difficult to scale smoothly. Think long-term. Invest in the technology and infrastructure you can see your company utilizing efficiently now and in the future. The CEO of Groove calls this “future-proofing.” After an all-day outage, his company learned the hard way the importance of having the infrastructure in place to avoid massive problems before they happen.
The time to upgrade your server is not when your website crashes because of too much traffic; it’s before that happens. Similarly, the time to upgrade your employees’ digital tools is not when they are overwhelmed by an overload of customers or job responsibilities; it’s before you get to that point.
There are no shortcuts to scaling successfully. It takes just as much — or more — work as it did to start the company in the first place. Take control of the transition. Get organized with tools that support your employees in their day-to-day roles, making it easier for them to get more done as the company grows. Simplify and automate processes, balance your new and existing customers’ needs, and invest in the technology and infrastructure necessary for your company to scale smoothly.
Kevin Hutchinson is the Founder and CEO of MyTaskit, a comprehensive and user-friendly work coordination platform that businesses use to connect their service teams, subcontractors and customers. MyTaskit smooths the rough edges of service delivery so technicians get more done, customers are happier, and the business makes more money.
MyTaskit® provides an online, subscription-based job coordination management platform that is easy to use, fits with your existing work process and saves time by simplifying job tracking. The platform enables you to manage your team from anywhere, set up your internal staff and subcontractors to communicate real-time, and coordinate work across your entire business. Because it's paperless, it's far more accurate and less time consuming than traditional methods and integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks and DockMaster.