“I. Don’t. Have. Time. To. Grow. My. Business,” said Marisa through clenched teeth. I could hear the frustration in the clipped tones. The resentment. The weariness. Trying to keep a lid on it all. And fearing she was always just one step away from a “volcano moment.”
Marisa’s digital design firm depends heavily on her relationships with clients. Clients who trust Marisa. The kinds of relationships and assignments where she can’t grow without putting in more hours and face-time.
So what to do?
One alternative: Become Dr. Oz. In other words, “productize” your service.
When you “productize” your service, you leverage what you’ve learned over the years … and sell an actual product of your knowledge. Dr. Oz took his unique perspective on health and the human body, and channeled his expertise into information products. (Congressional hearings aside, look at his “YOU” book series). This created a scalable facet to his medical services business. Scalable, because it didn’t need his hands-on presence to grow. He packaged his expertise and found a way to distribute and sell it without his active involvement.
What goes into creating a productized service? Ideally:
- It’s uniform. Something routine. Easily repeated and duplicated. That way, your client experiences the same outstanding service every time. And this engenders reliability and trust. (Look at how Kudu provides AdWords services and reports to clients).
- It’s basic. The simpler the service, the easier it can be repeated and duplicated. Also, if the service is simpler, there’s less skill required and it will be easier to train employees. (Think of dentists who now have dental hygienists do teeth cleaning).
- It’s technical. This makes it easier to automate, outsource or delegate. When tasks require high degrees of creativity or judgment, they are difficult to scale because of the experience and talent involved. (Note how LegalZoom charges one price for creating a Will online, and a higher price if you want more personalized assistance).
- It’s mobile. If the work can be done remotely, it can be completed by anyone (or anything) qualified to do it. This means you can outsource the work or even automate it if possible. (Sally Hogshead’s Fascination Advantage® test has done the ground work to establish metrics; all you have to do is answer the questions to get your “customized” PDF report delivered by email).
A productized service doesn’t have to replace what you offer (although it can). The two together can act in concert.