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How to drive business in a recession

We’re all trying our best to keep ahead of the downturn.  Some businesses have seen business drop in some cases 20% or more and that affects everyone.  Companies have cut staff and those staff members that have stayed on are doing more work than ever.  Internally where there is no top line revenue growth, saving money on the bottom line is the path to increased revenue.  It’s the old saying, “a penny saved is a penny earned”.

The big question is; how can you save money, while still marketing and providing customer service in a way that keeps your clients happy?

Over the last six months, I have been talking to a lot of professionals. Each one has been feeling the crunch of the downturn and each has been affected in a different way. When we started to develop this product, we knew we had to focus on the customer experience, but had no idea the economy was going to force such radical staffing decisions. Take the example of a photographer.  Since the start of the recession most have seen clients really pull back.  A good photographer has to go out of their way to create a special moment for these clients and when they are in a session give that client 100% of their time.  Whether at a wedding or a product shoot, the photographer is focused in a way that makes the client feel good about the attention and service they are getting.

In the mean time, no one is there to answer the photographer’s phone.  In the past, she may have had an office manager who would book appointments and send invoices for her.  The last year as business keeps droping, businesses like this have had to make the difficult decision to run the show on their own. The danger in this is customer service starts to lag. In a photographer’s world, while on a photo shoot, they are off the grid for 4 to 6 hours or more. She could forward her calls to her cell phone, but then she’s interrupting her current clients. If she doesn’t answer her phone, she may lose a new client. This was truly a dilemma.

Our clients have started to look for a more efficient way to communicate with their clients. First and foremost in every one’s mind is customer service and the biggest fear is losing the connection with clients. Saving money over hiring a new staff member is a close second.

We suggest giving online appointment setting a try. It gives the service provider the ability to set their schedule and availability online. When a client needs to book an appointment, the client can set it without having to call. This is a perfect solution for when a photographer is “on set”.

We’ve also integrated an invoicing system that can invoice for services when the appointment is finished. This again saves time and the need for an office manager.

While service provider’s bookings may not have increased over the last few months, they are still able to give the superior customer support to their clients that keep them coming back and getting referrals. Service professionals are able to manage her business professionally and efficiently with less cost. Making more money through bottom line cost savings or keeping the old adage alive that “a penny saved is a penny earned”.

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