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Five Lessons Local Service-Based Businesses Can Learn from the Ecommerce Industry

photographerRunning a service-based business is one of the best ideas for a startup, especially if you don’t have the capital that most product-based businesses would heavily require. With a service-based business, all you need is skill and hard work because your main capital in this kind of venture is your time.

If you’re going to be successful in this line of work, however, you’ve got to remain competitive. You’ve got to offer something different, something that people will want.

There are certain aspects of the eCommerce industry that you can take advantage of to grow your local business. By adopting these lessons, you can have customers coming back and asking for more.  Whether you’re a local photographer, a virtual assistant or the owner of a tutoring business, the following lessons should help your service-based business become a success.

1.  Build a loyal following and create repeat customers

In the world of eCommerce, you need to provide shoppers with top quality products and excellent customer service if you want to keep customers coming back for more. This isn’t much different when you’re running a local service-based business. You will start gaining loyal customers by providing focused, top quality service and a more personal approach to customer service.

Let’s take an event-planning business for example.  If you coordinate a well-organized wedding for one of your customers, they will definitely remember you.  With the satisfaction they gained from the service you provided, they will surely look you up the next time they’re holding an event and recommend you to their friends and family who are also planning their special days.

By delivering well beyond expectations, people will always come back for more.

2.  Use the Internet as much as possible when attracting new customers

Even if you are a local service-based business, use the internet to bring in customers.  You can’t deny the power of SEO and social media. If you really want to reach more people, you have to take advantage of this power. Everyone is online these days, and you must have a presence there if you want to meet your customers half way.

One of the ways to do this is to run paid ads that mainly target people around your area or within a certain radius.  All it takes is for people to lay eyes on what you have to offer. With everyone on their smart phones checking social media throughout the day, you are improving your chances of being seen by running these campaigns and SEO strategies.

3.  Referral programs and holiday specific promotions

One of the ways eCommerce businesses increase their following is by running special promos or incentive programs during holidays and other special days. You’ll see many eCommerce sites offering discounts for returning customers, buy one take one promos, discounts for referring a friend, and the like.

You can draw inspiration from these special promos and apply them to your local service-based business, too.  If you are in the electronics repair business, for instance, you can start gaining loyal customers by offering them a 20% discount on their next transaction simply by bringing in a friend who is also in need of your expertise. If you are into hosting events, you can offer a return customer a discount or a free add-on like flowers or the band for their next event.

People love promos like these because it is in our nature to always go with the option that will help us save money.  By offering such incentives, you are giving your business the opportunity to gain more exposure and loyalty, and to earn more as well, which puts you in a win-win situation.

4.  Do your research

eCommerce companies are always on the lookout for the next hot selling product. They continuously do product research so they can stay up to date with the latest trends and remain profitable in terms of the products they sell.

As a local service-based business owner, you should also always be on the hunt for the “next big thing.”  You should always be informed as to what services people are clamoring for by doing your research and observing what’s going on around you.

Is your service offering lacking in a certain area such as air condition installation?  Are people looking for more debut or prom coordinators rather than just weddings? Can you expand outside of your town to serve the surrounding communities where demand is on the rise?

Though you may already be running a successful service-based business, you should never stay complacent and be contented with just one set offering. As long as there’s a demand, you should always be ready to provide the supply.

Once you’ve determined the next best thing, prepare to grab the opportunity. You can learn all about this new service, but don’t necessarily have to. You can always hire someone who is already an expert to help you get into a new area. Just learn the basics and leave the rest to your hire until you get the hang of it.

5.  Build an Email List

Who ever said that email list building was only for eCommerce businesses?

In this day and age, every business venture needs a website. Having a website gives you the opportunity to market your services to a bigger audience. More importantly, it also opens up the opportunity to build your own email list. Even if you are in the catering or car repair business, you need to work on that list to reach out to your targets and get them to notice you.

Having an email list offers a lot of benefits.  Apart from attracting potential customers, you also get the chance to increase website traffic and further enhance relationships with customers that could lead to customer retention. An email list is also a good way of keeping your loyal customers informed without being as obtrusive as old-fashioned cold calling.


Running a local service-based business may be a lot different from operating an eCommerce store. You are marketing a skill or an area of expertise rather than a physical product when you’re running a service-based business. There’s no question, however, that the lessons and principles that the world has learned from the eCommerce industry can be a very big help if applied to a service-based business. These lessons can give you a huge advantage over your competitors. If you own a service-based business, apply these lessons to get a nice boost and see a noticeable increase in profits.

Connor GillivanConnor Gillivan is the author of Free Up Your Business: 50 Secrets to Bootstrap Million Dollar Companies, a serial entrepreneur, and the CMO and co-founder of FreeeUp.com. When he’s not bringing together hundreds of freelancers and business owners, he’s mentoring entrepreneurs through his site, ConnorGillivan.com. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

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