What do you do when you have too many customers?
It might sound like a non-issue, or something too good to be true, but businesses sometimes find themselves with more customers or clients than they feel they can handle. The right marketing effort—or just plain luck—can bring a ton of new buyers your way.
The other day, for example, I watched an Instagram video posted by a small lifestyle business that was overwhelmed with purchases after getting a shoutout from an influencer. The company’s owner had to stay up all night fulfilling orders. She even called on a few family members to help pack.
Meanwhile, others are well-positioned for sudden growth. Take Nathan Apodaca, better known as Doggface. You may be familiar with Doggface from a video in which he rides a longboard and drinks cranberry juice while lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” The video went viral in October 2020, resulting in millions of new fans and business opportunities for its star.
Without the right mindset and resources, Doggface would have struggled to adapt to his newfound fame and capitalize on his large new audience. But he skated nimbly through the transition and found lasting success in sponsorship deals.
For many businesses—especially those with exceptional services, products, or teams—a similar moment could be right around the corner. Indeed, if you invest in marketing and optimize your online presence, it’s only a matter of time before it happens to you.
So, what should you do when it happens? In the wake of a major new business opportunity, how can you avoid those late nights and family favors, and keep your cool, Doggface-style?
Not quite. More business doesn’t have to mean more labor. Here are a few ways to work smarter, not harder, when it feels like there are too many clients or customers coming your way:
- Embrace a growth mindset. Coined by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, the term “growth mindset” reflects the attitude that intelligence isn’t fixed, but can be developed over time. The idea is that we can achieve more by learning from challenging experiences rather than avoiding them, giving up, or simply focusing on how difficult they are.
- Establish healthy habits. Set yourself up for success by establishing the right routines. Eat well, take regular breaks throughout the day, get enough rest each night, ask for help when you need it, take time for your mental health…you get the idea. These sorts of habits will help you keep your energy high and your mind sharp. Remember: your business runs on structure and routine, and so do you.
- Practice self-care. Here’s another way you and your business are intrinsically linked. Caring for your company necessitates caring for yourself. Practice appreciation; practice celebrating and rewarding yourself. Take that bubble bath—the success of your business depends on it!
Prepare your team.
Business owners sometimes worry about taking on too many clients or customers because they don’t want to let people down.
What if I can’t meet every client’s needs? Or worse: What if I put too much strain on my team?
Let’s flip that around. You can just as easily let a prospective client or customer down by not serving them when they need your business most. And you can let your employees down by not providing them with opportunities to grow and share in your business’s success.
The key to giving everyone what they want is communication. It’s all about communicating the right expectations to your buyers and your team. Of course, you’ll need a growth plan—a strategy for building your business and serving more people (see point 3 below)—but the primary factor in that plan’s success is your ability to get your team on board with and excited about your vision.
In a case of sudden, viral success, there will likely be growing pains and difficult moments, but communication goes a long way towards alleviating stress. Be sure to explain to your employees:
- What’s happening and why. What’s behind the influx of customers or clients? Was it planned or expected, or did it spring out of nowhere?
- Why it matters. What does growth mean for your business? What does it mean for your employees? What new opportunities does it present?
- What’s expected of them. How does this change alter employees’ day-to-day jobs? Will there be a “crunch” period—and if so, how long do you expect it to last? Where can employees go if they need support?
- How the business will adapt. Will processes change? Will you hire more people? Will you partner with another company?
Regardless of what changes lie ahead, be sure to reward your employees and show gratitude for their hard work.
The good news is that no team has to take on all the work by themselves. Outsourced services like Ruby can act as an on-demand extension of your business, there to pinch-hit when you need it.
Prepare your business.
With the right infrastructure in place, the problem of having “too many customers” evaporates.
Okay, I admit this topic deserves its own blog post—or several. For now, I’ll leave you with a quick tip: You don’t need to rethink your business model or reengineer your infrastructure overnight. There are various services and tools out there that allow you to respond deftly to sudden spikes in demand. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Canary Marketing can help you scale your brand, improve your logistics, and take your business digital.
- Asana streamlines and accelerates project management. You can communicate with your team, assign and delegate important tasks, and measure progress all in one place, at a glance.
- QuickBooks offers easy accounting and bookkeeping tools to keep your team organized, informed, happy—and paid on time.
- Upwork is an excellent solution for hiring talented freelancers who fit your budget.
If you want to grow, “too many customers” can be a good thing.
Thunder only happens when it’s raining—and business only happens when you’re marketing. As you optimize your digital marketing, keep in mind that before long, your efforts will result in new customers or clients. Make sure you’re ready for them. Prepare yourself, prepare your team, and prepare your business.
It bears mentioning that many businesses have ceilings for growth, and some reach those ceilings sooner than others. Sometimes, it’s a matter of practical space; a gym, for instance, might have issues providing customers with sufficient room and equipment. Other times, as with a high-end lifestyle business, exclusivity might be at the core of the company’s value proposition.
For the majority of companies, however, more customers or clients are a good problem to have. More business means more revenue and profit, so long as you navigate the growth mindfully and strategically.
(By the way, if you’re looking for more tips, our friends at Grasshopper wrote an article about this topic—read their advice about what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed by a surge in new business.)
No matter how small your business, or how pressing the demand, it’s possible to serve and delight every customer. Ruby makes it easy.