Starting A Service Type Business Has Never Been Easier

In this blog post we will cover a few points that will help you learn how to start a service business.
Let’s get started!
Competing with multi-million dollar companies in seconds.
Back when I started, we had to hire expensive designers and developers to build our first website. Today, when you sign up for BookingKoala, a website with super powerful tools is made for you in seconds (more on the tools later). All you have to do is change images and text to fit your company, set up your prices, connect your bank account, and you’re ready to accept bookings and share them with your providers. We created this so I can switch King of Maids and host everything in one place, plus new businesses have it easy to start a service business using our platform. To learn how to to build a website in just a few hours click here.
This helps us in various ways, especially that I don’t have to wait for developers to make changes. Even if you have access to developers and designers, sometimes it takes time for them to make the simplest of changes, preventing you from growing your business and testing your ideas. By making it so easy, even our customer service reps can go and make changes to the site if they see something worth changing.
Cool Fact: It cost us most of our $6,000 budget to hire a designer and developer to build our first website for our cleaning business. It also took around two months to complete. Today the same thing can be accomplished by yourself and done within hours if you’re an experienced user. The best part, you don’t have to keep hiring developers for ongoing changes and maintenance. All that is included in all of our plans, including our $27/month starter plan. Sometimes, I wonder how fast we could’ve scaled our cleaning company if I had access to these tools we built for future businesses.
Premium Booking Forms
Book clients 24/7 even when you are sleeping.
Booking forms were an essential piece of what we were building when we first started. Since then, we have come a long way since we always test our booking forms to find new ways to increase conversions. At first, we started with a one-step form, then a two-step form, and now we have a multi-step form. All these forms are available inside BookingKoala however the multi-step form is a Premium feature (new forms are also on the way).
Allowing customers to book online is crucial because it saves you time. The fewer phone calls and emails mean fewer customer service reps, which means fewer expenses and more budget for marketing. This was a critical feature that helped us scale. Inside BookingKoala, you can set up your booking forms in various ways, depending on your industry needs. Simply change your prices, add in your services, and customers can book online 24/7. Some of our businesses that run on BookingKoala don’t even have phone support, doing everything online and through email.
Customer Portal
Customers do all the heavy lifting for you and help bring in more clients to your business on autopilot.
The customer portal is an essential part of the scaling process. After each customer completes a booking, either themselves or with a customer representative, they get an account automatically created for them. It’s important because through their account they can manage their bookings and much more. Instead of calling if they need to add something to a booking or reschedule, they can do that themselves to save you hours, especially as you start to grow a customer base.
On top of that, they can create new bookings whenever they want, with pre-saved data such as their cards, addresses, and information (a booking then takes seconds).
Customers can buy gift cards through their accounts and send them to their friends, allowing your business to collect more revenue. A friend will receive the gift card by email, and they can use the gift card code to book online or give you the code over the phone.
Balances are all tracked automatically, and if a refund on a booking is given, the gift card balance is restored (we genuinely try to automate everything for you and work continuously every day to provide you with the perfect software).
Cool Fact: over 50% of gift card revenue is never fully redeemed, leaving your business with pure profit. Some gift cards are never redeemed at all.
Another revenue stream for your business is the built-in referral program that your customers can use. Inside BookingKoala, a customer can refer friends and earn rewards whenever the person referred completes a booking.
At King of Maids, we have this set to $50, but each business can customize its amount.
Reviews are a massive part of your success, and we spent a very long time trying to perfect this part of the software. When I was designing this part, I always kept close attention to companies like Uber because they figured out a great way to capture reviews. You can see that when a customer comes back to book another ride, they are asked to leave a review. It’s brilliant because the customer is already in your APP, giving you their time and attention. It’s much more effective than just sending an email which will most likely get ignored.
For us, customers visit their accounts frequently. They come back to book more services, edit current ones, or refer friends, etc. At that time, we ask for a review which makes getting reviews easier, and you get a lot more of them.
Cool Fact: It’s so effective that when you look at our numbers across social media and other platforms like Yelp and Google, since 2013, we maybe collected around 1,000 combined reviews. We also had to chase customers to get the majority of those reviews. When you look back to 2015, when we started to collect internal reviews using this method, we did zero chasing and collected thousands of reviews. (Below, I will show you why these reviews are so powerful combined with our software).
Internal reviews are critical (you’ll learn more on that below), but external reviews on platforms like Yelp and Google are also necessary. Reviews on such sites bring traffic to your website, which later turns to customers. With that being said, those reviews are not forgotten, and we also figured out a way to get more of them within our system and all on autopilot.
From the photo above, you can see that this pop-up shows up after the original review is submitted from the previous image. So to recap, the user visits their customer portal, a pop-up shows up, and they leave a review. If they leave a review, this 2nd pop-up shows up asking them to leave a review on an external profile such as Yelp or Google. You can add in your own profiles here and remove them PER user if you see they already submitted a review on a specific profile. Keep in mind you also can control when this 2nd pop-up shows up (as an example, I wouldn’t want this pop-up to show if someone gave me a 3.5-star rating or lower).

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Since we control not to show the 2nd pop-up if someone leaves a poor review, it helps us avoid negative reviews outside the software. This is THE secret that helped us avoid a lot of negative reviews because when a user lands here, they will rate internally only, and the 2nd pop-up won’t show. Whenever a negative experience comes (a horrible one), you have time to fix the issue before they start to pursue other measures (leaving more reviews elsewhere). We then quickly reach out to all users that had a bad experience and try and resolve whatever issues they faced. Then we ask them if they are okay with us changing the review or updating it with their updated experience. It works great because if they agree, we have the power to change the internal review as the owner. If they left that review on Yelp or Google, they would have to change it themselves, and 8/10 times they never will. This will help you avoid many outside negative reviews.

Apart from saving a lot of negative reviews, you will collect more positive reviews because if someone posted a review internally on pop up 1, the user can copy the review on pop up 2 and click where they want to publish it in seconds. Super easy and super effective.

Let’s start going over the importance of internal reviews. From the above image, the ratings we collect are displayed when a customer is booking. This builds trust and immediate confidence that the customer is booking with a great provider.
As the owner, you can set up many different ways this is displayed, including ratings over 4 only. Meaning anyone with lower ratings won’t have a rating displayed. You can display the number of jobs the provider has completed and more.
You can add a review section anywhere on your website within seconds. Simply go to the website builder and drag the review section yourself to any page that you want.
This shows all of your real reviews and builds trust with customers. We continuously improve our software, and in the future, we have big plans with internal reviews to help your businesses, so stay tuned.
In the photo above, I blocked out the emails and names of our Providers, but this image showcases reviews of some of our Providers. We use internal reviews in an extremely powerful way to make our services #1, and this is a game-changer for our business owners using BookingKoala. Based on reviews, we can quickly determine who is good and who is bad. Those rated poorly are removed from the software, and those who are great get the most jobs. You can prioritize your Providers so that the best get jobs first, meaning the system will give the next booking to your top Provider, and if they are full, it will look for the next Provider or Team in line.

Since internal reviews come quickly, we can tell if a Provider is bad within a few weeks, sometimes days. This will save you lots of time and headaches when hiring your Providers and adding them to the system.

Provider Portal
Providers check their schedules themselves and grab bookings they are interested in so you can focus on hiring and getting more jobs.
We didn’t always have a Provider Portal. We would manually add all jobs to a Google Calander (later a different software while building our own). Then after spending thousands of dollars adding in a portal where Providers can manage everything in one place, things got much more manageable, and it increased business.
Whenever a customer made a booking, or we added one as an Admin, the booking would instantly show up inside the Providers account. Depending on many settings that vary based on business preferences, you can automatically make the Provider take the job or activate an Accept/Decline feature which will allow the Provider(s) to chose which jobs they want or don’t want. Since Providers add their availability, the system knows who is available and how many jobs we can take as a business.
Later once we started to grow faster, we had more customers than Providers, which led to us creating the ‘Unassigned Folder.’ This is a gem because customers can add themselves to a ‘Waitlist,’ and Providers can choose to pick up more bookings that otherwise would’ve been missed due to no availability. This works so well because sometimes, even though the Providers say they are not available, the jobs they see in the Unassigned Folder are too good to pass up, and they take it. Providers get an email and APP notification every time a job lands in the Unassigned Folder, and most of the Providers check the folder daily to see which jobs they may be interested in.
On top of all that, the Providers can see their payment history, reviews, and their settings from their account. Since BookingKoala calculates payment per each booking automatically, it makes your life that much easier. I still remember the days we had to add up each booking and send the payment manually.
I’m giving you gems right here, by the way. Think about it for a second, especially if you’re one of those people that wants success overnight. I’m literally telling you that we’ve been building and improving for years now, which is how you have to approach any business that you start. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon, and patience wins the race. Each day, you have to show up and do a little bit until it all adds up after ten years. Trust me, there were times I didn’t think what I was doing that day (as an example) would matter, but it did in one way or another.
Your Master Portal
One master portal to handle everything in one place (AND always improving).
We could spend a long time going over everything you can do inside your master portal, but I’ll try to keep it brief. From the master portal, you control your entire business. From the front of how your website looks like to your booking forms, pricing, customers, bookings, coupons, providers, ratings, reports, emails, texts, marketing, and everything you can think of that is necessary for a successful brand to be in business.
Inside BookingKoala, you can set up your own options based on the industries you are servicing. For example, if you offer one-time service or recurring appointments, you can set all that up yourself in seconds. Then add in your services, and price them accordingly based on specific options customers select. It’s super easy to set everything up, and if you need help, you can always let us know as we have 24/7 support. I’ve designed all of this with one thing in mind – growth. Growth is essential, and I knew one day, if I kept scaling King of Maids, we would add in other services and possibly more industries. When that time comes, BookingKoala allows us to easily add in an industry ourselves, add it to the booking page and start offering those services to clients.
Configure notifications inside the system to not only save time but to increase revenue. BookingKoala allows you to send out automated emails, texts, and push notifications (in some cases). When we first started, we would email a customer the day before each appointment letting them know we are scheduled to come in to clean their home. Today we set up email and SMS notifications to do that automatically. You can’t avoid this step because it helps prevent last-minute cancellations. If a customer forgets they have a booking but needs to cancel, they will do it right then and there. Without reminders, the cleaner would show up, resulting in a cancellation. This results in lost revenue because another booking could’ve been on the schedule for that time. All these little things add up.
Another example is our SMS notification that helps up-sell one-time customers into recurring customers. Every time we complete a one-time booking and a customer rates us 4 out of 5 stars and above, an email and text are sent out automatically with an offer to sign up for a recurring service.
We have tons of notification triggers in the system to set up and automate everything to help your business thrive. Emails can easily be changed yourself, and SMS/App notifications can easily be changed as well.
Reports are a massive part of your success, and we have built out some critical data points to help you decide if things are working and where you can improve. Take example, the cancellation report. Inside the system, you can set up triggers to learn why customers are canceling their services. Based on those triggers, you can run reports to see the biggest reason for cancellations. It’s an essential report for start-ups because if you see a common reason for cancellations is that you’re too expensive, it might be time for a change. Keep in mind it’s important to understand your traffic and who you cater to because not all traffic sources are the same. If you get traffic from Groupon or Craigslist, those users are all likely to look for cheap services causing them to cancel due to your high pricing. However, if you advertised to a different user base, your prices may be great or even low. A report like this will help you understand there is a problem, but the problem might be the user base, not necessarily the price.
There are tons of reporting features you can use to help your business. Something I wish I had when we started. I’m glad we have them now, but it was all spreadsheets and calculating everything manually back then.
Hiring is a must when building a service business unless, of course, you’re looking to work by yourself or with a small team forever. In most cases, the hiring never stops when scaling a business. People quit, get let go, or your business needs more people to meet demand. Here at BookingKoala, we know the importance of hiring, so we built out a Hiring module to help you automate as much of your Hiring needs as possible.
You can build out forms and place them on sites like Craigslist or take traffic from a Facebook AD to your form. Then you can automatically reject Prospects based on the answers they input, which will help save a lot of time for those that go through 10+ applications daily. Not only that, but you can build out ‘Onboarding’ funnels and tailor those funnels to your process. You can even automatically send out quizzes to Prospects whenever they reach a specific step of your funnel, which can be automatically graded. Then if the score of the quiz falls below a particular score (of your choice), the prospect can automatically be rejected as well. All this helps you save a tremendous amount of time.
To learn more about what you can do with the Hiring module, you can click here.
Coupons are a huge part of early on success. When we first started, we advertised on Craigslist and offered huge discounts to book customers. Our goal wasn’t to make a profit. It was to grow a brand so we could grow our reputation. For every client we got on CL, we tried to get the customer to leave a review on Yelp after each job was completed. After a few months of doing this, our Yelp reputation started to kick in, and we got an influx of bookings. That right there pretty much kickstarted our business (another free GEM).
Today inside BookingKoala, you can easily create coupons and add them to your ADs. If a customer books online, they can add the coupon code during the booking process, which is automated (we used to do this all manually). Later, you can run reports to see which coupons bring in the most customers and which marketing campaigns are successful.
By now, you get the idea of what’s possible when using the right software, so I will leave it by showing you one last module from BookingKoala. It’s actually one of my favorites, one that helps us recover a ton of ‘almost’ booked customers and boost our revenue significantly.
The above image shows our Campaign module which is a Premium feature. Every customer is automatically segregated into a list. For example, if a customer booked a one-time appointment, they are added to the ‘One-time’ list. If a customer booked a recurring appointment, they are added to the ‘Recurring clients’ list. If they cancel a recurring appointment, they are removed and added to a list of your choice. You can then use these lists to send manual or automated Campaigns to users inside specific lists.
Take example, our ‘Abandonded cart’ list. Any user who lands on our booking form, enters an email, phone number, and address but bounces on the checkout page ends up inside this list. Then we have an automated SMS that goes out 2 hours after the user leaves the form, asking if they need help with the booking. On top of that, we have our customer service reps call those users and try and get them to complete the booking. This is extremely powerful and will save you a lot of otherwise missed revenue.
Our ‘One-time’ list is also extremely powerful. Every booked customer ends up in here, and each week, they get an automated email that is sent out to them. We used to have a coupon inside that email back in the day, but now we send a friendly reminder to book a cleaning with us. Each email that is sent out generates free revenue for our company and all on autopilot.
See how much easier our users have it today versus when I started? I had to build this software piece by piece for us to keep scaling. I can’t complain because by building it for myself, BookingKoala came out of it. I’m also passionate about BookingKoala and want to make sure that it’s the best in the industry, which in my opinion, is and has been for a long time. Keep in mind I could’ve just went with a basic software someone else made, but there wasn’t anything that could scale us the right way, so we started to build our own. At that time, we never thought of turning it into BookingKoala and only focused on the best technology to build for King of Maids. Today we have users switching from companies that have billions in funding, and we hear all the time how they’re not half as good as we are. I love knowing our users believe in the software as much as my team does.
If you’re ready to commit, truly commit, get started. If you’re not 100% in it, don’t waste your time or money because you won’t succeed with a half-in mentality. It takes commitment to grow something and turn it into something special. Not just in business but in marriage and life. Think about it for a second. If you got married or you are married, you wouldn’t quit on your spouse when things got hard. You’d try your best every day to be the best partner you can so you both succeed. I see users start businesses using BookingKoala all the time, and then they say, ‘the software is too complex, or something is missing,’ and that always makes me laugh because I started with nothing and made it work. The best part about those users, they see others succeeding with the platform and try again months later; some quit again and sign up the third time, and they go in circles. Don’t be that person. When we started, my partner and I were 100% in, and we both knew we meant it. That’s how we succeeded.

You have the software to scale, now all you have to do is hire and get providers for your service-type business. If a 19-year-old with no college degree, no experience, no wealthy parents, no software, and no guidance can do it, imagine what you can do with the right software, the proper guidance, and a helpful community group of others who are doing it with you. 

Industries BookingKoala is best suited for

BookingKoala is an excellent fit for many service-type industries. However, some entrepreneurs who use BookingKoala sometimes come up with industries we didn’t even think of, which means the software is an open book to any creative person. A few popular industries among users are home cleaning, mobile detailing, lawn care, mobile barbers, poop pick up, laundry pick up.

Below is an image directly taken from inside of BookingKoala. The photo shows industries we added to the system and are continuously working on every day to make sure BookingKoala can scale such industries better than anyone else. You can also click the ‘Customize Your Own’ to add your own industry and experiment with your own ideas. If you select an industry we have added, the system will automatically create forms with services and prices that fit those industries best, but you can always change them.

I hope you enjoyed the blog post. Good luck with starting your own service-type business. Follow me on Twitter for more free content and updates.

CEO and Co-founder at BookingKoala, home to thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide. Grew his first business King of Maids, to over 5 million by 22 with $6,000 and no outside funding. Today focuses on helping businesses through BookingKoala.

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