If you have a service business, the chances are very high that you are losing money to scope creep. What is scope creep you ask? It's when a project starts off with a defined set of parameters, and by the end of the project it has morphed into something completely different. Often costing you a lot more hours and manpower to complete.
And no matter how good you think you are at defining a project or service beforehand, scope creep is a very real problem that most service businesses will struggle with at one point or another. So today, I wanted to share with you a few tips on how to find scope creep within your business and put a stop to it early on.
Keep your sales team in check.
The first place that scope creep happens is early on in the process. Your sales team promised a round trip to the moon during their sales call, and then when it comes to write up the service contract you end up billing them for a trip around the block. As the project progresses, the promises made during the initial conversation start to creep back and you end up doing more work than originally intended. To prevent this from happening, try recording some of your sales calls and reviewing them periodically. If you notice your team making promises that you can't keep, additional training may be necessary. You may also find that your sales team might not have a good grasp on what you actually sell. Let's say for example that you have a house cleaning business, and your house cleaners have a checklist of things that they do at each cleaning. They don't normally clean ovens as this is not part of their scope of work. But when a client asks if oven cleaning was included, the sales person could assume that it is and tell them that it shouldn't be a problem. This could lead to scope creep down the line, as the client will now expect an oven cleaning at no additional charge.
Pay close attention at zero hour.
Another place that we see scope creep come up often is at the very end of the project. When you are in the process of putting the finishing touches on a project, you may find that your client had other expectations of the deliverables and to meet their expectations additional work is required. One of the best ways to combat this is to lay out the project steps at the very beginning of the project and get buy-in from both your team and your client. Review the tasks and steps often to make sure that you are all on the same page every step of the way. Having a project manager to keep everyone on task and on budget can be invaluable to your service business and end up saving you a lot in the long run in scope creep loss.
Scope creep is a very real problem for the service industry, but one that is avoidable. With good project management, planning and training you can help decrease the number of hours and dollars lost along the way.