Know Your Clients
I’m moving. Not only am I moving a service-based business, it’s going from one coast to the other. However, when you’re looking for an entirely new client base, it doesn’t matter if it’s one or several thousand miles away. The question is simply:
Will the area support my business?
The answer lies in who are your clients.
Do you know who they are?
I mean your personal clients. Clients are people who are interested and need your services. Not the general population at large. Marketing can get very expensive when you are trying to reach everyone. That only works for companies with marketing budgets in the millions of dollars.
My budget isn’t, so my clients:
- Have problems I can fix. I am a mobile groomer and Reiki Master specializing in elderly pets and cats. The first problem I fix is dirty and disheveled older pets and cats. The second is improving said pet’s wellness with complementary therapies.
- See me as a necessity. All my services are provided either in their driveway in my state of the art mobile grooming van or in their home. These clients do not want to take their elderly pets or cats outside their home for services and are willing to pay a higher rate.
- Pays me my worth. They understand I am a premium service. When setting pricing, the cost of living for the area is taken into consideration. How much do I need to make to live comfortably? Read the Small Business Agency (SBA) blog. Or this article from Inc. magazine. Here is where some people get hung up charging their worth. I currently live in Danbury, CT. In Danbury alone, there are over 9,000 licensed dogs. That does not include cats. Add in the surrounding towns, and we are upward of 30,000 pets. I can’t groom that many. I only need about 125 of them. When you market to such a small portion of the population, while offering a premium service, you can charge more than the areas’ average.
- Within my travel radius. How far are you willing to travel from your home to work? For me, it’s 15 miles. That tightens up my choices quite a bit. If I was willing to open up that radius, my home becomes less important to my business. Income can range widely within any given 30-mile radius. I could service a higher income area while living in a more affordable one.
- Other criteria. What personal decisions factor into your business decisions. My personal decisions regarding locations included: pension friendly state, area attractions, weather, and liberal leaning politics.
How do I know if the area will support my business?
There is some work on your part that needs to get done. It begins with demographic research.
- Remember all those pesky census bureau questionnaires we filled out? All that information regarding the population of the United States can be found at Census.gov. Everything from age, sex, income, education, and so forth is right at your fingertips.
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) makes demographic information available to us as well.
- Trade Associations publish demographics particular to their industry. Didn’t know you had a trade association? Here’s a list of them.
- Once you have an area in mind, contact the local Chamber Of Commerce. They will have demographic information specific to their coverage area.
- Use the SBA’s SizeUp tool to compare yourself to similar businesses in your chosen area. This app is a little dated, however, it still offers valuable insights to other providers in your area.
- Before taking the plunge, visit the area and see for yourself if it’s a good move for you and your business.
- Are there businesses that I complement or do I fill a void in similar businesses? For myself, complementary would include human wellness such as massage, yoga, health studios and so forth, as well as veterinary offices that do not offer grooming. Similar businesses would be other grooming shops that do not want to groom elderly pets or cats.
While we don’t always get to choose where we live, there are always choices when it comes to our businesses. Better business decisions come when you have more information to work with. And the added bonus of knowing who your clients are is the ability to plan a marketing strategy that will save you thousands in the long run.
Originally published at badasserymag.com on January 4, 2017.