Many consulting firms are currently enjoying boom times—particularly those that cater to thriving, in-demand sectors. For example, a recent study released by AMA Research found that the risk management consulting market is currently booming globally, with key players like Deloitte, Aon, and Marsh leading the way.
But some thriving consulting firms are quickly finding themselves in a “cup runneth over” scenario, as they lack the capacity to take on new projects. This is an especially acute challenge for smaller consulting firms and independent consultants, who can quickly find themselves stretched so thin that they can barely deliver for all of their clients (let alone focus on other aspects of their own business).
You never want to be in a position where you have to choose between turning down new clients or providing all of your clients with a lower level of service as your abilities are exhausted.
To avoid just such a scenario, try using some of these tactics when you or your consulting firm find that capacity issues and increased demand are becoming overwhelming obstacles.
Hire more people
We’ll start with the obvious one first: If you’ve got more clients than you can handle, hire more people to help get the job done!
Of course, it takes a long time to find and train new consultants. Hiring new ones is anything but a “quick fix.” However, it is a viable long-term solution for your capacity issues, and potentially a good investment in growing your business.
If you don’t think you’re ready for that step, though, you could always try subcontracting certain components of your consulting projects before hiring new full-time consultants.
Raise your fees
Another obvious solution, but one that some small firms or independent consultants may be reluctant to try: Charge more.
Sure, it’s very likely that you’ll have fewer clients if you raise your rates. However, if it’s a substantial increase in prices, you can potentially make up for lost clients (while also decreasing your workload and solving your capacity issues). Yes, you know how math works, but really: Four $50,000 projects are worth the same as five $40,000 projects!
One of the other advantages of this strategy is its flexibility. It’s easy to raise your fees (you could start right now!), and just as easy to lower them if you find that too many potential clients are unwilling to pay the new price.
Take on new projects, but don’t start them right away
Let’s say a client approaches you about a new project, and you don’t have the capacity to take them on at the moment, but you also don’t want to lose their business. In that scenario, you could ask if they’d be willing to wait and start the project at a later date.
If they agree, make sure you sign an agreement outlining the proposed schedule and get a deposit from the client.
Of course, taking on new projects faster than you can start them could create a logjam. If that happens, though, you should have time to try other tactics (such as hiring or subcontracting) before the deadline arrives.
As long as it’s not an especially time-sensitive matter, many clients will probably be willing to wait, and will recognize your packed schedule as an indicator of your quality and value.
Continue to develop and nurture prospective clients
This isn’t necessarily a tactic for addressing high demand, but it something that’s very important to keep in mind when you’re at capacity.
One of the great dangers of an overloaded project schedule is the tendency to overlook other aspects of your business—like marketing.
Sure, in the short term, there may not be a pressing need for new business. But if you’re not actively marketing to potential clients, you may find that once your current slate of projects is completed, there are no new ones to begin tackling.
To avoid this fate, continue to make marketing and prospecting a top priority (even during the busiest periods for your business). Maintain a weekly newsletter that you can send out to top prospects. Include a call-to-action in all of the content you create for potential clients. And if you succeed in connecting with a prospect, don’t forget to nurture that relationship and continue following up with them by email.
Invest in streamlining and improving your business
A lot of the options we’ve examined involve either increasing capacity (through new hires or subcontractors), or decreasing workload (by raising prices to limit clients or delaying the start of new projects). However, if you’re looking to maintain the same capacity and the same workload, you really have no choice but to “work smarter, not harder.”
Fortunately, there are processes and tools you can invest in to streamline and improve your business.
For example, the David A. Fields Consulting Group recommends that firms “automate and eliminate as much of [their] work process as possible. Bring in a ‘process czar’ who is expert at identifying waste and compressing processes.”
Additionally, specialized solutions like Sogolytics can make it easier for your film to analyze both CX and EX data for your clients.
SoGo’s survey and analytics platform allows consultants to capture the information they need through a variety of channels and distribution options, including online surveys, social media platforms, text messaging, email, QR codes, and more. SoGo also makes it faster and easier than ever to analyze and visualize that data, allowing consultant to present the information to their clients in a highly accessible, understandable way.
Instead of wasting precious time on Excel spreadsheets, you’ll have powerful analytics at the push of a button, with agile reporting functions that reveal valuable insights for your clients.
Find out today how SoGo can make your consulting firm both more efficient and more effective.