IT is necessary in all lines of business, regardless of size or industry. Even before the current state of society, businesses needed an online presence for several reasons; advertising, easier for customers to interact with you, improve productivity, building a reputation, expanding your reach, finding employees and more. The following example helps highlight the value IT solutions for small businesses can provide.
Lawncare is a very common home business venture, long history of small businesses in this market and fairly easy to start. Traditionally, starting was all word of mouth and self promotion through vehicle decals and perhaps custom signs in the yards of current customers. My best friends father actually had a his own lawncare business, I even worked there a couple of summers during high school, that he managed for about 20 years and was moderately successful with it. He started in the late 80’s and did this through about 2006 so his traditional approach worked well as most small businesses were not digital at that time. Fast forward to 2015, a friend of mine that separated from the service was looking into starting a lawncare business, his uncle had done it, his father was employed there and he even did a little during high school as well. Times were different however, most competitors had social media pages to market their business and engage with customers interactively. He was not prepared for the level of competition, he struggled for the first 12 to 15 months just to turn a profit. Manually tracking his schedule, customer payments and invoices, expenses, phone messages and was not expanding quickly enough to be able to afford to pay someone for help.
The frustration finally came to a head when his equipment was aging and he was concerned about his ability to repair\replace it. It was at that time he reached out for advice. We decided to meet to discuss his current state and what were his biggest needs. He explained that although he had thought about it he had not yet created any online presence for his company or brand, not even the free and easy items like social media, Google MyBusiness, Yelp etc. He had not even considered other options like a website\domain, business email, customer management software and other common IT solutions for small businesses. I decided that we needed a longer conversation to develop an actual list of needs based on his goals and budget and would need to prioritize the efforts to focus on items with less cost and higher value since his operational budget was already stretched very thin.
We built his Facebook page, created a few other social media accounts for his business and used them to get the word out. His family was very helpful in managing some of the interactions for him while he was actually working to reduce customer response times. They also helped with updating his schedule for him through his Google Calendar so that he was updated on any last minute cancelations, calls or new clients wanting a consultation. Within the first 6 weeks things we’re starting to improve. He was spending less time manually tracking his schedule, looking up customer contact info and was gaining clients quicker through social platforms.
We decided the next thing would be to build a website so that he could integrate it into his scheduling, collect payments virtually, setup reminders for his clients, integrate all financials into his tax software, allow new customers to automatically book appointments and sign up for services and much more. There was a financial impact to this portion, and some time and thought involved to keep it all together. However, the returns on this effort were far more valuable that the costs! Upfront, it was close to $800 for everything and we were cutting corners as much as possible. It was also approximately $75 – $85 in monthly subscriptions for some of the backend integrations and automation tools. Ultimately though, this eliminated about 50 – 65 hours a month of manual efforts in tracking some of the now automated components of his business!
This is not to say that he is now independently wealthy now, but he is now the owner of a profitable and efficient business! His customer acquisition and management costs have reduced by over 30%, his onboarding and engagement times have increased by over 50% and he is no longer dependent on phyisical interactions and relationships to gain new leads. His customers see the reviews on common social platforms and can directly interact and engage from there. He has had several occasions in which he was providing services to clients for a couple of months BEFORE he actually met them in person. His accounting and finances are simple and easy come tax time and he does not have to have awkward conversations with clients that are behind on payments since he can automate the requests and receive notifications of payment of disable services all through technology.
The key to improving efficiencies and growing your business absolutely require IT solutions for small businesses. They bring value in ways and scale that most can’t imagine and if done properly, they can help you expand your business without drastic costs. When the right strategy is applied the solutions actually complement each other and therefore new capabilities improve the efficiency of existing solutions and help organic growth of the business.
Call us today to learn more!
Keywords: IT solutions for small businesses, SMB IT, ITOMagic, IT operations made easy, IT Services for small businesses