Asaf Darash is the founder and CEO of Regpack, an online payment management platform. He holds a Ph.D. in New Media.
Many business leaders find themselves caught in a chicken-and-the-egg situation when it comes to scaling their business and focusing on infrastructure and operations. Time and time again, I see companies that strategically focus on infrastructure from the beginning experience accelerated growth and attract a distinct clientele that propels them forward. In short, their onboarding and operations are a major part of their marketing strategy, not an afterthought.
I am, first and foremost, an academic; that is how my career started. Hence, I saw great value in looking at the huge data set my company, Regpack, has accumulated. We provide a solution for managing registrations, payments and customer data, and my goal was to understand why some of our clients are super successful and grow at rates between 30-50% annually while others don’t. Reviewing data from more than 5,000 organizations and 4 million end-user applications has illuminated the profound impact that a robust infrastructure and strategic planning can have on business outcomes.
A clear observation arose: Companies leveraging their operational capabilities as a competitive advantage achieve the highest growth rates. An even more surprising result was that the success is attributed to the specific type of clients they attract—individuals with high income, meticulous organizational habits and a penchant for detailed planning. This means that focusing on infrastructure created growth by allowing them to target more lucrative clients.
Take a multifaceted approach.
Thriving entities often employ a multifaceted approach, promoting early onboarding, offering extended payment plans and guiding clients through meticulously designed processes.
By embracing these practices, they not only open their doors to clients well in advance but also ensure their events are fully booked months ahead. This success is not solely due to the high demand for their activities; rather, it stems from their exceptional organizational prowess.
In order to implement this process in your company, start by looking at your onboarding process from the clients’ point of view. What are the minimum steps you need from the “common case” client in order to move them through the process?
The concept of the “common case” is very important. As managers and administrators, we tend only to encounter problems. This is how it should be since a human touch is required for these end cases. The problem arises when people start employing processes that focus on these end cases. The result is that the “common case”—normally defined as the needs that 90-95% of your clients have—becomes convoluted and hard.
Once you create the minimum process required for the common case, now go to your reporting and see that you have everything you need. Anything missing needs to be added. Now, you have a great onboarding process.
Prioritize advanced onboarding.
In my experience with service businesses looking to grow, I consistently witness that organizations achieving the highest levels of success excel in advanced onboarding, often reaching several months or even a year into the future. These companies implement comprehensive processes for virtually every conceivable scenario, complete with clear escalation pathways for rare instances without predefined solutions.
Your experience and knowledge are the pathway to these playbooks for escalations. View every case that hits your desk as an opportunity to work on how you take care of specific cases. If you can, group them into prototype cases, for example, issues with payments, issues with family structure, issues with timelines, etc.
Now that you can see the wider picture and not the specific upset client, you can set a policy on how to deal with these cases. Your best source of data is your support and account management teams. They meet these cases daily and can tell you what works and what doesn’t.
Understand the importance of processes and infrastructure.
Crucially, for these successful organizations, their operational structure isn’t a mere add-on after sealing a deal—it is the deal. Their processes and infrastructure serve as the offering itself, distinguishing them from competitors. This marks a departure from the conventional narrative that emphasizes infrastructure only when faced with scaling challenges.
With every offering you have, always start with the infrastructure. Ask yourself: How will you onboard the clients? How will you deliver the service? How will the process work from zero to one? Do this for 10 sales, 100 sales and then 1,000 sales. Most likely, the needs will change as the volume changes.
Planning ahead will help you identify what you need to do to alter the process. For example, if the process looks very different for 1,000 sales, you can prepare to be ready for the change when you hit 900 sales.
Especially in the service industry, infrastructure is not just important; it’s absolutely crucial. Consider markets like tourism and travel—without the necessary infrastructure, these sectors would collapse. Imagine removing the backbone of travel—the booking systems, transportation networks and accommodation facilities. The industry would cease to function.
Establish a solid foundation for success.
The early focus and embedding of operations and infrastructure is not just a strategic advantage. It’s a survival imperative. Companies that invest in these foundational elements ensure they are not only prepared for the future but also positioned as leaders in their industries. So, for those developing their business strategy, remember this: The early bird doesn’t just get the worm; it builds a sturdy nest that can weather any storm.