Let me tell you about an experience I had the other day that was the inspiration for this article. I was running a seminar when during the break, an attendee ran up to me and said, “Can you please help me to fix my website?” I said, “Sure, but why do you want to do that?” Her answer was, “Because I need to make more money.”
Now clearly I’m in need of a little more information, so I asked, “What do you do?” She said, “I’m a Personal Trainer.” To that my response was, “If your desire is to make more money quickly, I don’t think you should be spending any time on your website right now.” Clearly, this was not the answer she was expecting.
I went on to say that while I’m a big promoter of people having or fixing their websites, this process is not a strategy that will create an immediate cash injection. Instead, building a successful website takes time and requires thought, constant maintenance and of course, costs money.
So again, while I love websites and what they can do for businesses, websites are to be viewed as a medium to long-term strategy. In other words, they are something you should focus on only when you are in a stable financial position and your business is producing regular cash flow.
Having said that, I did go on to list a bunch of recommendations that day for generating faster cash flow, which I’ve listed below. These can apply to almost any business, so read carefully and ask yourself how many of them you are practicing in your business.
1. Put Your Prices Up
Business owners often fear putting up their prices for fear of losing their clients. If you are good at what you do however, the vast majority of people will be more than happy to pay five to ten percent more – as long as you can explain why your prices are going up and you do something new to improve your value proposition.
Also on this point, remember that inflation goes up by two to three percent each year. So if you are not putting your prices up each year you are losing money, meaning when you are eventually forced to put your prices up, the jump you’ll need to make is greater.
Question for Reflection: What else can you offer your clients to justify premium pricing?
You want to move to a position where you have guaranteed revenue coming into your business each and every month
2. Move To Fixed Term Contracts
Most businesses move from client to client and job to job. In the case of personal trainers, carpet cleaners and hairdressers (and hundreds of others I could name) they service their client, who pay them and then they move on to the next one. The problem with this type of business is that you are always dependant on the state of the economy and you start every month with zero dollars in your bank account.
Instead you want to move to a position where you have guaranteed revenue coming into your business each and every month. To use an analogy: it’s easier to climb up a high mountain if a helicopter drops you a few hundred metres from the summit.
So why not work out what the average person is spending with you every year. Then convert that amount into a weekly fee and invite customers to join your VIP programme, which is managed via an automatic debit system. Explain that this process will save you both money and that as a VIP client they are going to receive extra privileges.
Question for Reflection: What incentives can you offer to move your clients to fixed term contracts?
3. Ask for Referrals
This is an obvious one and it’s much easier than setting up a website. Plus, it is free and you can reap the benefits of referrals in a matter of days, rather than in months or years.
To explain this strategy simply: like attracts like. If you have a particular client that you love, chances are they’ll have friends just like them that value the same things.
So at the end of your next client session, explain to your customer that some extra space has become available and you are now looking for three new clients to work with. Then ask, “Do you know of anybody like you, that could benefit from working with me?” Then once they start sharing names, be proactive and ask them if they would mind sharing a phone number, so you can give them a call to offer them a free session.
Once this process is followed through, remember to thank your original client and better still, send them a surprise gift. This will delight them and lead them to wonder who else they could refer to you.
Question for Reflection: When was the last time you directly asked a client for referrals?
4. Claim Your Google+ Local Listing
If you are a local business selling products or services of any kind, this strategy is a no brainer. To explain: Google (the worlds largest search engine by a country mile) gives you the opportunity to have a free business listing. In short, it’s like you having a half page ad in the yellow pages without having to pay for it. The only difference is – people actually use Google.
The benefit of doing this is that if someone types the name of your product or service and a name of a suburb or general area (for example, ‘wedding dresses North Melbourne’) into the search engine, there is good chance you will be on the first page of Google within a few days. Plus you will also be featured in the Google Maps search.
To find our more how you can set up your Google+ Local listing today, go to: www.google.com/+/learnmore/local
Question for Reflection: When are you going to put a time in your diary to set up your Google+ Local listing?
5. Train Three Influencers for Free
If you are looking for more clients, one of the best ways is to work for free. Before you simply wipe this idea, let me finish. I’m not talking about working for free for just anybody, I’m talking about working for someone that is either a celebrity or a big mover and shaker in your industry.
This is seriously one of the best strategies you can employ but so many people don’t think of it. Now when you do this work for free it is going to be under two conditions. Number one: if the person likes what you do they will supply you with a written and video testimonial, which shares their experience and endorses your work. And number two: they agree to help spread the word and tell others about what you do.
In order to find details for the people you identify as being useful to you for this strategy, look on their website, try contacting them through Facebook or Twitter, or try the directories you can purchase online that display the contact details of high profile people.
Question for Reflection: Who are three people of whom you would work for free?
6. Offer A Group Service
There are going to be some clients that are able to afford your one-on-one service and there are going to be ones that can’t. For those people, consider introducing a group model where you are able to service more that one client at a time.
For this you’ll be charging a lesser price, however because you’ll be servicing many clients concurrently, you may be able to earn two or even three times your normal rate. Clearly this is a great win/win scenario. Now you might say, “Well that is obvious if you’re a personal trainer” and yes that is true. However, with a little mental gymnastics, this strategy can be tailored and made applicable to hundreds of other business types.
For example: you are a wedding planner and your objective is to secure more clients. You meet a couple and they love your work, but when they see your premium price, they just can’t afford it. Rather than moving on, you could offer a DIY Wedding Planner Package. It’s 40% less than your regular price and involves meeting you alongside 10 other like-minded couples, rather than one-on-one. To make this easy to manage, you do an intake of couples every quarter.
Once you start getting to capacity and you’re finding it hard to schedule clients, increase your one-on-one prices by as much as 50%. This will steady the flow and you can start running more group sessions.
Question for Reflection: How can you offer group sessions?
7. Create A Limited Time Offer
A number of years ago a great book was written called Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini. It outlined six keys principles about how to influence potential customers to buy. Of these six principles, many believed the most powerful one to be the principle of ‘scarcity’ – basically when supply is scarce people are influenced to act.
As an example, when British Airways announced they were retiring the Concord, all remaining seats where sold within a matter of hours. You too can use this principle in your marketing. In fact I would go so far as to say, if you are a small business trying to grow, never run an advertisement without including an offer.
Offers you may wish to use include: two for one, ‘X’ percent discount, free trial, ‘X’ dollar gift voucher and special bonus, just to name a few. The key to using an offer is to always add scarcity. To do this, you can either use time based incentives (expires at the end of the month) or limited number offers (only available to the first 16 callers).
Question for Reflection: What is your next marketing offer going to be and when will you run it?
As mentioned earlier, I’m a big fan of people developing their websites. However, success in business is all about finding the balance between generating cashflow today and implementing strategies that will general cashflow in three, six or 12 months time from now. As much as I love websites, there not going to generate cashflow today. So instead, spend your immediate time focusing on the strategies mentioned above. Then when you have got regular clients and cash is flowing, spend time fixing your website.
Now it’s over to you. Get busy and until next time, enjoy putting these ideas into practice.