BOZEMAN, Mont., June 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Finding new customers is the top challenge facing local small businesses, with poor time management being the number-one barrier to communicating with consumers, according to an independent study of the "Relational Economy" conducted by an independent research firm on behalf of Schedulicity. An online platform that allows millions of consumers to discover and book local services, Schedulicity gives service-based professionals more time and resources to care for their customers. The study is currently available on RelatE, Schedulicity's new educational resource for service providers, helping them start, manage, and grow their business.
"The Relational Economy, which we estimate at 50%-60% of the total U.S. consumer economy, involves millions of daily personal interactions between local businesses and consumers, so we wanted to find out exactly what was driving and hindering these relationships," said Jerry Nettuno, Chairman and Founder of Schedulicity. "Our company has a unique vantage point on this market, having facilitated millions of transactions between service providers and consumers—nearly $4 billion in appointment-based commerce. We knew that before using Schedulicity, many service providers were not efficiently managing their time, so we embarked on this study because we are passionate about seeing these professionals succeed. Our new blog, RelatE will provide resources to help overcome the issues the study identified."
Asked to name their top challenges, the 398 survey respondents, ranging from beauty salon owners to plumbers to IT professionals, ranked "finding new customers" first, followed by "business growth" and "customer retention." To meet their challenges, 27% said they needed better advertising tools and 21% better customer communication tools.
Further assessing customer communication issues, 58% of the small business professionals said that "time" was their biggest barrier, followed by "expectations," and "cost." "Cost," however, came in second among service providers from the health and beauty fields.
These professionals seek a variety of services to help them connect with clients. Over half (51%) of respondents said that online payments would be "extremely helpful," but that number was higher for white-collar professionals (56%) than for blue-collar pros (48%). Giving consumers mobile access to schedule and update appointments would be extremely helpful to 43% of respondents, with a wide disparity among sectors: health/beauty 48%, white-collar 39% and blue-collar 33%.
When asked what their customers complain about most, two responses led the others: "There are never any coupons, sales, or discounts available," and available appointments were "not convenient for my schedule."
The report on the Relational Economy also includes the following results, all revealing the demand for RelatE:
- Professionals described feeling "frustrated" by their challenges.
- 58% of them had not yet sought outside resources to meet their challenges.
- About half spend one to three hours a day on customer communication -- but only 18% stated the communication was "very effective."
- 83% said they were "likely" or "extremely likely" to try new communication methods.
The Schedulicity study of the Relational Economy was conducted by an independent research firm, using a digital survey delivered via smart devices from a sample of 398 service professionals over a two-week period between April 21, 2015 and May 5, 2015. The full report is available at, www.therelationaleconomy.com
Schedulicity is the leading online appointment scheduling system and marketplace for discovering and booking local services in more than 50 different industries. Millions of consumers in more than 2,500 cities across the U.S. and Canada have booked tens of millions of appointments and billions of dollars in appointment-based commerce through Schedulicity. Since launching in 2009, Schedulicity has earned awards for excellence in technology and customer service. To begin using the platform, find a local service provider, or book a great deal on a last minute appointment please visit www.schedulicity.com.