How to Scale Your Service Business

Last updated 12/28/2018

scale business

Productizing. These days, everybody’s talking about it. But do you know what it really means?

Productized services are a way to add more leverage to your service-based business. Done right, it will allow you to earn more, work less and provide better value to your customers.

Sounds complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. Think about it this way.

Imagine that your job is a baker. (Unless you’re already a baker, in which case, this is about you.)

Say you can make 100 cupcakes a day. And each cupcake that you can make brings in $10. Then in an ideal world, you’re going to be making $1000 a day, right?

Of course, that’s rarely how it goes for those in the service industry. After all, first of all you need to make sure you have people who want to buy the cupcakes. And people who know that you’re selling the cupcakes.

And you have to make those 100 cupcakes every day, otherwise you’re going to make a loss. On days where you don’t bake, then you’re not going to make money. And if you’re running at full tilt to make 100 cupcakes a day, then that’s going to be your financial limit.

Setting up a service-based business is simple, but at the same time, it can be a slow build to something great. It can also be limited by the number of hours in your day.

You need something that will allow you to continue offering what you do best, while at the same time offering up a regular income stream. This is where you can look at productizing a service.

How, exactly, do you Productize?

If your service is making cupcakes, then your product is the cupcake. So to productize your service, you might, for example, offer people cupcake mixture in a box.

It does exactly what it says, right? On the front of the box, there’s a cupcake. There are instructions on the side. People know exactly how many cupcakes they’re getting, and (if you’re making a quality product) exactly what it’s going to taste like.

Best of all, whether you’re working or not, people are going to buy the cupcake box, and make the cupcakes. Suddenly, your service has become a product, and the product is making you money.

The good news is, there are very very few limitations as to the kind of services that can be productized.

Regardless of your industry, the likelihood is that you’ve worked out a way to complete a task - in your own shorthand - that can easily be turned into a product that other people would be interested in. This is because the world is full of different skillsets, and people are looking for the most efficient ways of completing tasks.

And while it may not replace your services business overnight, by developing a range of products you can gradually replace your services income with a more reliable revenue source. Which means that you can buy yourself more time to decide where your business goes next, and why, and how.

The Benefits to Productizing

Productizing

More Money AND More Time

By productizing a quality service, you are investing a finite amount of time and money, and it’s mostly happening up front. Once the service has been productized, you can clearly inform people what it is that they can expect from your product.

Take, for example, WP Curve.

WP Curve offers their customers unlimited access to anything WordPress related that they create - from design and development to plugin integration. By doing this, they are freed up from having to hunt out individual clients who are looking for designers. Instead, they have more customers than they would ever be able to offer billable hours to, benefiting from their WordPress design service.

By creating a specific system, and a quality product, WP Curve easily demonstrate how you can productize a service, and do it well.

Better Cash Flow

When it comes to hunting down leads, and praying for conversions, you can find yourself sometimes stuck in an all or nothing situation. At the times when it works, you’re busy and comfortably making money. Yet when you’re chasing down leads and trying to make up the numbers, it can feel like you’re in a drought.

When you’re so busy trying to make sure that you meet the ideal number of clients, it can be hard to do anything outside of the lead-convert cycle.

Productizing a service, particularly if you offer up subscription options to your customers, can free up valuable time and resources, while ensuring that you still have income.

Best of all, productizing can put you in the best position to benefit from passive income if you offer up guides or downloadable options.

Reduced Stress

When it comes to creating systems, productizing your service allows you more control and understanding over your income and your time expectations. It also means that you don’t have to be working 24 hours a day in order to make money 24 hours a day - which can allow you to consider things like sleep, relaxation, and family time.

Quality with Scalability

It should almost go without saying that word of mouth, particularly for a service, is vital. But by productizing your quality services - and getting good at productizing your services - you’ll find that word of mouth drives your reputation.

This will also allow you to scale up your business, and increase your offerings if you so wish. Instead of being limited by the hours in a day, you now have the creative freedom to consider how and where you’d like to grow.

What’s important when it comes to productizing?

What's most important

Work Out What Your Customers Want

When it comes to deciding the service that you want to productize, it’s vital to think about what the customers want - and not necessarily what you want to give them. Perhaps you have those FAQs that you’re always being asked, or there’s a system you’ve put in place to simplify your life that you had to make because nobody else had made it.

That, at its essence, is the power of a productized service.

Design Pickle tapped into this when they created their productized services. In a world where it’s vital to have a website, and graphic designers are hard to come by and expensive to keep, they have tapped into a gap within the market. So for a flat rate, you can access a professional graphic designer, without the customer having to worry that they will have spiraling costs.

This taps into an inherent customer fear, while offering the opportunity to alleviate it - as part of the business model.

It’s Important To Be Agile

While you might decide that you want to offer one or two productized services, it’s important to remember that these are unlikely to be the only services that you offer. While the benefit of productizing a service comes from the fact that you can offer up a discrete set of services, it also allows you to highlight something that you do well and may want to entice people into.

For example, Rootstrap Studio offers app road mapping as a productized service.

As a digital studio, their main services are in web and mobile app development, so they have an intimate knowledge and understanding of what the market needs. Their productized service taps into something that they have identified a need for. Then, with a really clear four phase process on their website, they offer a specific time-frame, that they can deliver on.

But that isn’t where it ends.

If people wish to work with them further, they can then create a more bespoke program. This provides different pathways from the product to the service, increasing the income streams.

Give Up Your Value

One of the most challenging parts of productizing a service for people is the idea of offering the price to the product up front. After all, a lot of companies avoid putting it out there as though they can hide behind an unknowable idea.

A product based business model encourages transparency and openness, and can also encourage people to invest in your other services. After all, once a client understands how much they need to invest for a productized service, they are more open and understanding of the specialized services that you offer.

Don’t Do More, Do Better

Rather than dedicating all of your time to creating hundreds of products, it’s more time and cost effective to focus on one or two things that you do very well.

After all, it can be attractive to assume that if you turn your services into a Walmart superstore of choice, that you’re more likely to get even more customers. However, there can reach a tipping point where you can no longer sustain, or worse, offer up the promised deliverables, and you’re likely to find that your reputation takes more of a hit than you can comfortably sustain.

Instead, offering and then improving on the services that you offer allows you to continue to offer a quality product and quality service.

Case Study: Correlation by UI Breakfast

It can be helpful to see who is offering up productized services and doing it well. Along with some of the examples already mentioned, we wanted to offer you a case study on UI Breakfast

UI Breakfast

Who are they: Jane Portman is an independent UI/UX consultant who helps software companies to build products. Having worked as a creative director in a large agency, she now runs userlist.io, and offers a variety of products and services through her website.

What’s the productized service? Correlation is a monthly service Jane offers:

Get undivided attention of a seasoned creative director to bring the vision for your app to life, improve your UI/UX and boost your revenue. I’ll be your trusted consultant and will follow up with actual design work --- as simple as that.

What problem does it solve?

Design and aesthetic is one of the most important parts of the online experience, and it can often be overlooked. To sell a product, first you have to entice people to be interested in it.

Jane has tapped into the concern that people have about this side of their business, and offers up a creative director experience - without having to pay for a full time creative director.

How does it work well?

On her sales page, Jane talks through the people her service is appropriate for and, importantly, those she cannot help. This kind of integrity affords people to have trust in what she’s offering, as it’s not an attempt to pretend that one size fits all.

Of the other things she offers which are a great way to sell the service:

A money back guarantee can be a risky but useful way to continue to win people over. While there is obviously a risk that people may take you up on it, a strong guarantee about your service allows you the opportunity to win over people’s objections.

A free course which allows people to get a taste of what it is that Jane does. In this way, Jane has set up a clever sales funnel, by highlighting her methods and providing value without taking payment. This is a great way to entice people into the program, and the various services that she offers.

Finally, by linking to another product, in this case her eBook on app design which helps establish Jane and her philosophy toward design, she is continuing to scale up the services. Perfect for those who are intrigued from taking the free course, but wary about spending over $1000 on a monthly service, at $39 the book lays out what Jane is about and how she does what she does, at a reasonable price point.

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