Industry Trades & Services

The Trade Business Flywheel

Written by Jon Dale

I recently read an article by the founder of Hubspot, a digital marketing company and arguably, a leader in that space.

The author wrote about having a flywheel in your business. Assuming you’re more mechanically minded than me, you’ll likely know how a flywheel works – it stores momentum or energy.

So your engine, or your business, keeps going for a bit even if you take your foot off the accelerator.

The author is talking about marketing and how, if you’re lucky, you can stop marketing and all that momentum means the work still comes in, at least for a while.

I don’t want to flog the analogy to death but if we can agree that some business momentum is a good thing, we’ll probably do okay.

You might also call this stored momentum word of mouth or goodwill. People who know you will come and use your services again, even if you’re not running ads or directly marketing to them.

You can make a flywheel spin faster and therefore store more momentum in two ways, by either:

  1. Applying force to spin it faster; or
  2. Reducing the friction that slows it down.

How do you do apply the flywheel to your business?

1. Applying the Force

Force is about investing in your marketing continually – not just doing one thing but investing in building your brand. It’s about delighting your customers so they are advocating for you, telling their friends.

It’s about word-of-mouth, and it’s about actively making sure you deserve it and actively encouraging it too.

Big companies have marketing departments focused on customer retention. But I’ll show you how to set yourself up with customers who leave reviews on social media and pass your name on to their friends. If you’re not actively trying to delight them by doing a good job, then I probably can’t help you.

2. Reducing the friction

Friction is interesting. The writer, Brian Halligan, talked about how he bought a mattress online (I’ve done that) and his razor blades from Dollar Shave Club (I do that too). I also buy wine online, TV from Netflix and music from Spotify.

We all do and here’s why – it’s easier. There’s less friction.

Buy a mattress in store, and you’ve got to deal with a salesperson who’ll be pushy or desperate and you’ll have to haggle.

Online, there’s none of that pressure – you do your research and choose on your own.

Same with Dollar Shave Club. No more buying blades at the supermarket and finding your brand is out of stock, so you either shell out for another handle or shave with a blunt blade until you shop again.

It’s a first world problem, I know, but when Dollar Shave Club came around with a fun video and said $8 a month for a new blade in your mailbox, job done! It was easy and cheap. No friction.

Is there friction in a trade business?

Yes, there is! Lots of it.

  • There is typically no self-service option. You may enquire online, then eventually speak to a person. Usually, there’s uncertainty about how much it will cost – “I’ll send someone out to quote on Friday”.
  • There’s uncertainty about whether the price is good or fair (on both sides).
  • There’s waiting and uncertainty about whether someone will show up.

Imagine if your customers could come to your website and book their own site visit?

And know the cost, or pre-pay the call-out fee online?

Would that reduce the friction? I think it would.

By reducing uncertainty around quoting, pricing, wait time and delivery of your services you can cut down the friction.

Simple ways to start simplifying the customer experience could be:

  1. Publish your prices online based on a standard quoting system
  2. Use an online booking system like Trade Terminal to automate appointments and keep bookings online

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About the author

Jon Dale

Jon Dale, of Small Fish Business Coaching is a business coach for tradies - trades business owners wanting to grow their businesses. His articles will help you understand how to manage your marketing, sales, operational systems and the people of your business. His program is called the Tradies Toolbox because he hopes you can use it, like a tool, to make more money and build a business you're proud of.

There are a few ways you can explore whether working with Jon is right for you, right now:
1. You can watch these videos - subscribe here to get them emailed every week.
2. You can join the Tradies Business Toolshed Facebook Group and participate.
3. You can attend the next Tools Down Workshop - 2 days of Jon explaining the framework.
4. Or you can book a 10-minute filter call where you and Jon will both look at whether he can help.

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