Building The Professional Services Firm

Entrepreneurs starting or scaling a professional services firm should realize this type of business is different than a retail shop, manufacturing company or e-commerce store.

Instead of selling a tangible product directly to the end user, it involves marketing a defined set of skills based on experience and personal expertise.

The buyer can’t physically touch and feel that service but must rely on awareness, reputation, and trust before selecting a company for accounting, coaching, financial services, IT consulting, legal work and/or health care.

Our firm is currently in its 17th year. We offer developmental optometric services to clients, not only in our home base area of Glen Carbon, Illinois, but to others nationwide. Over the years we have tried various marketing strategies to grow the practice. Fortunately we have developed a winning combination resulting in an extremely large increase in both patient volume and net profits. Following are some lessons learned, ones that can be applied to anyone wishing to start or grow a professional services business.

1. It’s OK to be a small fish in a big pond.

When we first started we were in a very small rural area. We were the big fish in a small pond. Unfortunately it was a very small pond. While patients did visit us from the surrounding towns there just weren’t enough of them to sustain our practice. This triggered a move to a larger area, about one hour away. It was also a suburb of a major metropolitan area. Though competition was greater, we were able to carve its own niche and attract dozens of new patients. Moving to an area where there were more potential clients became the foundation for our dramatic growth.

2. Brand and Differentiate Your Firm.

Google any firm in any service category. It is challenging to determine how one firm is different than the next. That’s why professional services firms need to develop a marketing strategy that separates their business from the competition. In our case we were one of the first developmental optometry firms to use YouTube. It helped us educate the public on a variety of eye related issues that really were not being addressed. It also helped establish our firm as experts in the field. Since this medium is hugely popular, and relatively inexpensive to use, we were able to create a large of number of videos and reach a great number of potential clients most efficiently. Today we have hundreds of videos on YouTube, and a strong presence on various forms of social media. It has enabled us to reach potential patients not only in the U.S. but internationally as well.

3. Work in tandem with other professionals in your industry.

Since our firm is one of the few developmental optometric practices in the nation, we often are called upon by other eye doctors in remote locations for consultation regarding their patients. Some are even located in Europe and South America. This consultative approach holds true for practitioners in other industries as well. Attorneys who specialize in one area of the law can often serve as a referral source for those in other practice areas. The same is true for a financial planner who may wish to connect with an insurance professional or a real estate broker who can serve as a referral source for a mortgage lender. Developing relationships with those in complementary businesses can be a real boost for the growth of your firm.

4. Hire a business coach or consultant.

Few of us in professional services are trained in strategic business growth. It is not what we do. In order to ramp up our practice we engaged with a business consultant who has started and operated many large and small businesses. The consultant helped us set up many standard operating procedures, helped us create a higher functioning team and helped create benchmarks for growth. He has paid for himself many times over. Service firms can scale quicker and more efficiently by engaging with someone who has done it all before.

5. Consider new ideas for practice growth.

Those in professional services should research and analyze different ways to grow their firms. In our case, we started consulting with other eye doctors who wish to learn Developmental Optometry or wanted to add it as a service offering. The consulting piece has added to our revenue stream and increased profits. You can study industry trends and determine the right type of additional specialized services that best fit your practice, personality, and business goals.

How To Grow And Scale Your Business Quickly

Do you want to scale your business quickly? Then it’s time to recognize what your customers want and give it to them.

A customer-centered “outside-in” perspective is a great way to rethink and redesign your business. It allows you to stay ahead of the competition and respond to changes. This approach will help you understand the evolving needs of your customers and come up with innovate ideas to serve their needs.

Working From The “Outside-In”

Often, business owners get caught up in internal matters and lose focus on the changing market. However, by working from outside-in, you’ll bring a new perspective to your business. You’ll have different insights and experiences that will help you approach your marketing from a different angle. An outside-in approach will infuse your marketing strategies with fresh and unexpected ideas.

It’s common to get the tunnel vision, and sometimes this is unavoidable. It happens especially when we’re very close to a project. You invest your time, emotions, and money in your business, and it becomes hard to see things clearly.

Although you may have a clear idea of who your target market is, one small change in the way you segment your target market can significantly improve your revenue and profits. The new perspective brings improvement.

Break Out From Your Comfort Zone

It’s clear that if you want to build something great you have to break from your comfort zone, and an outside-in marketing perspective will definitely disrupt that comfort zone. It’ll shake things up and change the assumptions you have about what will work and what won’t work. It’ll help you market your business in a different, unique way and you’ll truly stand out.

It’s normal to take certain things for granted and these things could be the differentiators that could make customers line up to purchase what you’re offering. Also, it’s common to be having a differentiator that isn’t setting you apart. However, breaking out of the comfort zone by adopting an outside perspective will help you see your company more clearly and you’ll do everything possible to create a more effective strategy.

Understand Your Customers

Adopting an outside perspective can help you fully research your customers and you’ll be able to understand them inside and out. You’ll be able to speak the customers’ language instead of using the words you use internally. And you’ll be able to showcase the benefits of your products and services in a manner that will help you land your ideal customers.

When working in an organization, it’s often hard to show the value of your products or services to those outside your organization. But a customer-centric perspective can help you solve that issue. This is the best approach to rethink and redesign your company. So if you want to build a successful and sustainable business, it’s time to adopt an outside-in perspective.