Growth is good: it’s what we want for all our clients. But business growth also brings with it a lot of change. As you know, when a business grows they find themselves rapidly acquiring more customers, hiring new staff, and requiring access to more and more data to inform their decisions.
While everyone wants to grow, many businesses are poorly equipped to actually deal with these changes. Chances are they’ll find themselves becoming increasingly frustrated, and hitting numerous brick walls with their existing processes and software. Growing pains aren’t just for teenage boys.
The challenge we’ve noticed many professional services providers have is that they design their service and solution around the current state of their clients’ businesses. However, as all good client relationship managers know, you need to keep your eye on their over the horizon developments, so that you can remain relevant and continue adding value, as their business grows.
Often, great professional services businesses are constrained not by their ability to deliver value to their clients, but the software platforms they’ve aligned themselves to.
Many providers choose to align with simplified, minimalistic software that is the lowest common denominator in the market. This is fine if you only ever want to work with solopreneurs and start-ups, but even then, you run the risk of not being able to grow as these clients grow.
Others hang on to ageing legacy software that are way past their ‘stock until’ date, and become irrelevant to their clients as a result.
So how can you retain your growing clients and continue to play a crucial part in driving their ongoing success?
While working with many growing SMEs in Australia and New Zealand, a few stood out to me as stellar examples of how a growing business can minimise disruption and disorder in their business. A lot of it usually came down to the type of technology they leveraged, and how it enabled them to plan, manage, and sustain their growth for the long term.
So here are four specific things a software platform built to enable growth will allow you to do to deliver additional value to your clients:
- You can design the solution to work the way your client works
One-size-fits-all software doesn’t really fit any business and is easily outgrown. Instead, the best software for growth is one that can be designed to perfectly fit the needs of the business using it, incorporating all parts of their business into one platform. So any addition of more users, departments or customers to the system will always be easily handled across all aspects of the company. And if things drastically change, (as they often do in business), the software can easily be reshaped to suit a new structure.
- You can equip your clients’ staff with the tools to be more productive and efficient
Technology can be both a time saver and a time killer. The most valuable business platforms not only make day-to-day tasks faster, but can transform the way your clients do work completely. For example, a clever workflow automation function can quickly trigger notifications, automate quote follow-ups and generate insightful reports on anything from inventory levels to supplier performance.
Another feature to look out for is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management). This ensures all customer and prospect data is captured in one location, equipping your client’s staff with the knowledge to have the most effective sales conversations.
Overall, the right software platform for growth should be easy enough to use that it saves your staff time day-to-day, but also powerful enough to generate advanced automation rules to eliminate simple manual tasks, and allow staff to focus on sales and growing the business.
- You can give the decision-makers the answers they need.
A business that’s planning for growth needs to be able to analyse past data and predict the future performance. But generating the sophisticated and detailed reports needed for this can take time. Some companies even employ a full-time business analyst just for this task, but few SMEs can afford such an expense.
The right software platform should allow your clients to produce advanced business intelligence reports based on data from all aspects of the business, such as financials, operations, inventory and sales. Not only will you and your clients have better visibility over how the business is performing, but by allowing the system to handle a lot of the manual tasks and drudgery, you’ll also save having to do them yourself.
- You can improve the experience for your clients’ customers.
In addition, growing businesses often find it challenging to keep up with the demands and expectations of their increasing customer base.
To help your clients deliver effective and reliable customer service, look for a business management software solution that includes a comprehensive CRM feature. We talked about how a CRM can help make your client’s lives easier – but it also ensures their customers have a seamless and positive experience with their service. It will have the capacity to capture all of their customer information, previous orders, complaints or issues– allowing your clients to provide the exceptional customer service, all the time.
Also consider sophisticated marketing capabilities as a key criteria when making your choice. This allows your client to ensure that their customers stay well informed, by being able to build and send beautifully branded emails. So look for a platform that allows for easy segmentation and email marketing features.
While a lot of this blog discusses how poorly suited software can hold a business back, with great advice and great technology, we’ve seen software play a huge part in helping businesses achieve and exceed their growth targets.
Recognising this, we designed a Business Tuning Software that was built specifically to help generate and sustain growth for small to medium businesses, called HARMONiQ.
With HARMONiQ you can add value to your clients’ businesses by:
- Implementing a software that is entirely customisable to their needs, and is built to grow with their business;
- Providing their staff with one source of truth for all customer information, and an easy way to manage their follow up tasks and provide personalised customer service every time;
- Implementing powerful automation workflows to save staff time, encourage efficiency, and transform how the business operates;
- Giving them visibility over various aspects of their business by generating reports incorporating accounting, inventory management, sales orders and customer relationship management modules;
- Tracking key performance metrics, as well as pipeline analytics, allowing them to forecast their outcomes and make more informed decisions, and using hard data to back your own recommendations;
- Ensuring their customers stay engaged and satisfied using sophisticated eMarketing integration with Campaign Monitor to send personalised, branded emails with built-in reporting capabilities.
I hope these thoughts will assist you in helping drive growth for your clients and give you some ideas about what you should be looking at to help you do so successfully.
The combination of powerful software and your expertise will no doubt empower your clients to achieve and sustain growth, and also keep them from looking anywhere else for advice and growth during this challenging time.
If you are facing any of the issues I’ve written about above and would like to discuss, please call me on 02 9542 2000.
Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on working with accountants and professional services providers to help their clients tune their businesses by leveraging cutting-edge technology. If you want to help your clients gain further efficiencies within their business while boosting your own revenue, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to their business and your own, or get in touch.