THE BLOG
01/28/2016 03:25 pm ET Updated Jan 28, 2017

10 Strategies for Growing a Small Service-Based Business

Real business success is measured by more than profit. It depends on building long-term relationships with customers by earning their trust and loyalty. In my experience, this is best accomplished with dedicated employees who know that they are highly valued members of the team. These 10 principles outline my strategies for prioritizing both employee and customer satisfaction to form a solid foundation for service-based business success.

1. Take a Hands-On Approach

I'm often out in the field with my employees where we work shoulder-to-shoulder. As a restoration and cleaning contractor, I address situations that can seem overwhelming to home and business owners. A hands-on approach demonstrates my commitment to my teams, and it establishes a personal connection with our customers who appreciate knowing that we really do care.

2. Employees Are Family Too

Keeping an employee family happy takes understanding and flexibility. My husband and I are parents, and most of our employees have children. We know that when something important comes up, mothers and fathers need time off, so we do all that we can to be accommodating. Treating employees like family keeps team productivity high regardless of individual needs.

3. Create a Welcoming Workplace

To make our headquarters more comfortable for staff, I've set up a nursery and playroom for employees who need to bring the kids to work for a day or two, and we keep a sitter on standby to help out when we're facing long shifts. Sometimes, we surprise everyone on duty with pizza. A welcoming workplace lets our teams know how much we value their hard work.

4. It's OK to Get Personal

Regular one-on-one meetings with staff members let us talk about how their jobs are going. They're free to express their concerns and suggest ideas for improving our services. Through this open line of communication, I help build individual strengths and identify problems. I'm not afraid to get personal. Employees know that they have my support and respect, and that helps them deliver their best to our customers.

5. Create Workplace Diversity

I believe that women's multitasking talents make us very efficient in the workplace. While I appreciate our hardworking field crews who tackle tough projects every day, my office staff is an all-woman force, and I know that moms are especially dedicated to their jobs. More and more, women are becoming a part of our male-dominated industry, and we all welcome and value that important diversity.

6. Give Employees Room to Grow

It's my responsibility to give my teams every opportunity to do their best. Our employees have ready access to ongoing education, industry certification and annual seminars. As each grows in his or her skill level, that individual mentors newer members of our team in order to ensure a continuation of the high standards and best job practices that satisfy customers and increase business.

7. Provide Solid Incentives

It's important to share success by rewarding my staff with real incentives. They enjoy paid holidays and vacations, flex spending accounts for child care, end-of-year corporate shares and a 401(k) program. These aren't easy accomplishments for a small company, but they give me a competitive edge that retains loyal employees even though I'm surrounded by larger businesses offering generous benefit packages.

8. Earn Customer Trust

By going the extra mile to provide our very best, we earn customer loyalty that helps establish repeat business and important referrals. Real people answer our phones 24/7, and we follow up every project by making sure that the client is satisfied. Customer trust depends on the contributions of our employees who know that they deliver real value to the job, and that ensures our future success.

9. Emphasize Compassion and Professionalism

Because we provide emergency restoration services, we recognize our responsibility to be compassionate and understanding. Our employee handbook includes an Act of Kindness policy stressing the importance of doing something nice for a client whenever possible. Customers appreciate knowing our human side, and our professionalism and sincere acts of kindness make a positive difference in many lives.

10. Become an Involved Community Member

When my husband and I started our business, our first office wasn't much bigger than a walk-in closet. Our current headquarters gives back to the community with space designed for local meetings and workshops. Other small business owners, non-profit groups and area residents come together right here under our roof, and we enjoy the opportunity to stay involved with the community that we serve every day.

Small business success doesn't come easily, and the challenges of restoration contracting services are never-ending. My company ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba takes real pride in all that we do because we truly value the rewarding feeling that we gain in return for treating people with fairness and respect. Customers and employees don't show up on a spreadsheet, but their loyalty and dedication are my company's most important assets for continued growth.

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.