I have a client who has been in business 25 years. Her business has been in steady decline since 2009. This is such a common story for small business owners. Since 2009 the market has changed and many of them have not. They are vulnerable and losing to increased global competition.
At her peak in 2008, she did $1.4 million and life looked pretty great. She occupies a unique segment in the market and has a distinct advantage over her competitors because she has a small manufacturing operation on-site.
The problem is her business is in the stone age. She depends on her customers calling in to order - we all know that doesn't work the way it used to and her customer base has been poached away or forgotten they used her as a supplier. People come and go in her client companies and may or may not know her business used to give them service. Her main gig is managing employee rewards programs and creating custom awards. She does not do trophies. These are all B2B clients. This is high-end stuff.
She has several very large file cabinets that are packed FULL of customer records. I mean thousands and thousands of files. These are companies that used to buy from her regularly. Some know her business, some will not because it has been 5-10 years since they bought anything.
She has a separate cabinet for "repeating" orders - it is also huge but a lot of these are out of date also.
Relying on paper files and not keeping in contact with customers is going to kill her business very soon. She was paying me to help with her business processes but the change was just too much. Her employees are struggling with calling old clients (they have zero sales ability). They are inbound order-takers. They are good at that but outbounding scares them badly. She is scared, disappointed, and frustrated.
So - I have an idea.
What if I set up an operation that works her old customer files? I estimate that there is at least $1million in annual revenue sitting in those files. At the very, very least. In all honesty, $2m annual revenue is not a stretch. There are thousands and thousands of old customers. She used to be the heavyweight.
There would be several steps involved - scanning the old records - doing some sort of data entry - and then calling/emailing them promotions.
Finally, the questions:
1 - Does anyone here have knowledge of how this can work?
2 - She struggles big time to meet payroll now - so a big upfront investment will not work. Is there any way to work this on a commission basis?
3 - What would a good commission be? 20%? 25%? 50%?
4 - I will not do this work myself. Simply too busy. Does anyone know of a company that specializes in this type of operation who could take it on as my partner? Should I just put a team together myself? Is anyone here interested in calling on a commission basis?
5 - What is a good contract duration? This would be a minimum a one-year deal. She gets a lot out of it (digitized records and more sales). I believe the scanning and data entry might be the most important thing she gets from this. I could see this being a 24-36 month full-time arrangement for someone on the phone.
Thank you for any expertise and experience you can offer.