Are You Wasting Your Most Valuable Asset?

December 16, 2009

If you sell a service and your diary isn’t booked solid, you’re wasting your most valuable asset.

If you have five hours space in your diary today – you’ve lost that time and the service you could have provided expires forever. It’s like throwing 5 hours profits in the trash. So what can you do about it?

Is It Just Downtime, Or All Of The Time? Is it just particular times of the year, or certain days week that your diary is empty? Then think like a hotel chain and plan special discounts and deals for those quieter times.

Call your most valuable clients first. If someone has two hours booked, offer them a deal – say an additional two hours for half price. This might seem like a steep discount but it’s probably far more cost effective than finding a new customer to fill that two hour space.

But if demand for your service is low all the time, you may have other problems.

Are Your Prices Realistic? How did you decide on your prices? Are they similar to the prices of most of your competitors? Are those competitors busy? Contact them and see how quickly they can fit you in. If the answer is tomorrow, they’re probably overpricing and that means you are too.

Or maybe you set your prices really low to compete with other services. Trouble is, if you’re too cheap, they might assume that your service sucks.

Think About Less Specialized Services You Could Offer:
Chances are, many of your potential customers won’t want, or need specialized services. Is there an additional service you could offer, that requires less of your specialist time? Maybe you could offer a more general service and outsource the work.

Can You Sell Long Shelf Life Items Too:
Most things will have a longer shelf life than your time, or the time of your staff. Could you introduce products that compliment your services? What about e-books and e-courses? They might take time to put together but if you automate the sales process, they’ll only take up a fraction of your time later on.

Plan Value Adding Activities For Your Downtime:
Your time is valuable. But when you’re not fully booked, it’s easy to piddle away your time and achieve nothing. Try to spend your downtime on activities that will bring you more work – like marketing.

Are You Wasting Your Most Valuable Asset? Do you struggle to fill your diary? What other suggestions would you give to a small business owner who is throwing away their time?

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Related Reading On Other Sites

Outsourcing For Beginners
A Skewed Sense Of Time Screws Up Your Schedule
Is Blogging The Best Use Of Your Time?
There Is No Shortage Of Time

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12 Responses to “Are You Wasting Your Most Valuable Asset?”

  1. Barbara Swafford on December 16th, 2009 7:24 am

    Hi Catherine,

    This is so true. As a business owner we realize if our schedule isn’t booked up, we’re losing out on income. I like your idea of adding products to compliment a service, or adding a complimentary service that ties in with an existing business.

    With the down turn of the economy we’re looking for ways to add more services to our existing ones. For example, in the winter we’ve always done snow removal for commercial sites. This year we’ve added an ice control application service as well. Ironically, we’re getting calls for ice control even though all of our snow has melted, (Currently it’s raining and the temperatures are close to freezing. Without ice control, the parking lots will be a sheet of ice if the temperature drops just a few degrees.) Although it means we’re on call 24/7, we’re happy to have the work.

    P.S. Thank you for the link love. I truly appreciate it.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..The Shortest Lesson Ever

  2. Hilary on December 16th, 2009 8:50 am

    Hi Cath .. time is so precious .. especially for businesses where the owner, or staff, have to present all the time .. don’t just leave them or yourself. Now – there are so many ways to develop other opportunities, rather than being ‘locked in’ that narrow band of your brand that you’ve set yourself .. look elsewhere – tie in with local businesses ..

    Thanks – plan and prepare -
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  3. Betsy Wuebker on December 16th, 2009 2:49 pm

    Hi Cath – Great reminders about holes we could plug in our businesses.

    One thing related to long shelf life is repetitive or subscription services. In our gift franchise, for example, we are rolling out e-subscription services that will send out email newsletters and flyers for our franchisees on a regular basis, freeing them from managing their lists and creating content. A life coach, or a service business could sell monthly subscription packages for diagnostics or services that commonly get deferred or overlooked. Preventative maintenance or similar.

    Barbara – I smiled when I read your comment, remembering an annual dilemma with my snowplowing service at the other house. Every fall we would be given the choice – prepay a fixed amount for the season, or pay per each time. If I prepaid, then inevitably there would be no snow and my guy just pocketed the cash up front. If I chose pay per time it would snow every day. I couldn’t win! :)

    Thanks, Cath. Glad your blog is back up!

    Betsy Wuebker’s last blog post..Soothing Scrubs – A Great Gift to Make or Keep for Yourself

  4. vered | blogger for hire on December 16th, 2009 5:29 pm

    Personally, I prefer to charge more and have less but high-paying work than to charge less and have my calendar full. I offer high value to clients so charging more is justified and have a family that I want to be with, so don’t worry too much about the occasional downtime.

    vered | blogger for hire’s last blog post..Peanut Butter Cookies

  5. cathlawson on December 16th, 2009 7:08 pm

    Hi Barbara – You’re welcome. Ice control sounds like a great addition to your business. Many people in your line of business allow the bad weather to slow them down, or stall them completely. I love how you turn all that cold and snow to your advantage.

    Hi Hilary – Good suggestion. Partnering with other busineses is a great idea and it can offer a lot of opportunities to make extra cash with less time.

    Hi Hilary – Subscription services are a great idea if you can offer them. They make it a lot easier to project your future finances too.

    You’d think a lot more franchises would offer that service. As you say, it really saves each individual franchisee a lot of time.

    Hi Vered – That is perfectly fine to do when you’re working alone and don’t have any employees to worry about. Plus time you spend with your family is something you can’t get back once you’ve missed it.

  6. Rita on December 16th, 2009 11:33 pm


    Being in a “luxury item” business like the jewelry business is totally dependent on both the economy and the time of year. One never knows what will sell on any given day.

    One thing that I am certain of is that my pricing is the lowest to be found. Since I bought the gold at it’s lowest and it has gone up by over 30%, I have not changed my pricing at all. My goal was never to make a fortune in the business, but to provide quality items that can be sold for the price of a good meal – or a nice pair of shoes. I will keep my pricing structure the same and happily sell to anyone who is looking for something special.

    What is more on my mind at this time of year is that it is a time to be spent with family. Without having to adjust costs, I am able to focu on the TRUE gems in my life: my daughters.

    Rita’s last blog post..Ode to Bianca

  7. Barbara Swafford on December 17th, 2009 2:43 am

    @ Betsy,

    LOL. I hear you. This is the first year we’re on a seasonal contract for a major client. I don’t know if we should do a snow dance or not. If we get a lot of snow or ice we may lose money on that contract, but if we don’t, we lose out on the business from our other commercial accounts which are T&M. Mother Nature has a mind of her own, so we’ll just go with the flow.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..The Shortest Lesson Ever

  8. Dave Doolin | Website In A Weekend on December 17th, 2009 1:12 pm

    I’m in that initial phase of building a customer base.

    One thing I’m doing is building out documentation that I can use as collateral for both marketing and for customers. For example, a current client’s knowledge of website operation is a little less than she needs if she is going to operate it herself. So I’ve been writing up some notes, which she gets, and which get posted as blog posts. I may be able to sell some of this in the future.

    Dave Doolin | Website In A Weekend’s last blog post..Static Versus Dynamic Websites – Operational, Informational, Interactional

  9. Dot on December 17th, 2009 3:15 pm

    I like this. If I had a business, I’d certainly be worrying about these issues, so it’s nice to have a way to address them.

    Dot’s last blog post..Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

  10. Melissa Donovan on December 17th, 2009 11:17 pm

    I love how you call it a diary! In the U.S. it’s a schedule or calendar, but diary sounds so much more fun.

    I also wish that we used “bloody” in the U.S. As in, “You make bloody good points on this post.”

    Feel free to censor — I’ve always been unclear on whether “bloody’ was a curse word (?).

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Eight Web Content Development Tips for Conception

  11. cathlawson on December 22nd, 2009 11:59 am

    Hi Rita – I agree – time with family is far more important than profits. You can make a profit at any time, but you can’t get lost time back.

    Hi Barbara – I’m crossing my fingers that the weather will be on your side.

    Hi Dave – That sounds like a great way to save time and offer a variety of services using the same product.

    Hi Dot – Maybe next year, you’ll come up with an awesome idea.

    Hi Melissa – We use so many different words to you. Bloody is fine – it isn’t so offensive as some words over here.

  12. 7 Enjoyable Ways To Spend Less Money : Catherine Lawson on June 26th, 2010 2:34 am

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