Have you been looking for opportunities to expand your business to new markets? It’s a significant undertaking for any service provider venturing out into the “unknown,” facing obstacles and risks along the way. One particular Kronos® Workforce Ready partner, PayNorthwest, based out of Seattle, Washington, recently shared their experiences from their recent expansion into Spokane, Washington, a distinct market 280 miles to the east that PayNorthwest had been studying for some time.
For PayNorthwest, their expansion strategy consisted of four key elements: putting “boots on the ground” in the form of a qualified sales representative, identifying and activating a key referral partner, implementing local customer acquisition campaigns, and if possible, acquiring a customer base to boost presence and mass. Mike Anderson, President of PayNorthwest, offered helpful advice to those in the partner community who are looking at expanding their existing business. “We were looking for the right opportunity to enter the market. We saw a door opening with one of the large national providers retrenching a bit in this particular market and so we felt the time to act was now.” According to Mike, a lot of pieces fell together at the right time, but he points out, “Chance favors the prepared.”
With respect to acquiring a payroll book of business from an independent payroll provider, Mike mentioned that it took time to find one that had a client base that was a good match for his existing target client profile and for the Workforce Ready platform strengths, but who didn’t underestimate employer demand for broader human capital management capabilities beyond payroll. He added, “At first, it can also be challenging, even messy, servicing clients with pre-existing expectations and processes established with their previous service provider.” He explained that the relationship between the previous company and their clients has a significant impact on any new company stepping in, so it’s important to delve into the details during the process of evaluating acquisition targets.
Having a built-in customer base through the acquisition helped, but PayNorthwest knew that to gain greater visibility in the Spokane area and attract additional clients, they would need to actively market themselves. They launched several marketing campaigns designed to introduce themselves to the market, including search engine optimization (SEO) linked to their website, as well as community press releases announcing their referral partnership with a local organization.
Mike also mentioned the importance of having a knowledgeable sales team on staff to help the business take off. “What we’re selling today is not the old payroll sales of yesterday. It is obviously a more complex, consultative sale,” he said. In addition, he stressed the importance of having a well-established connection between the sales and customer service staff and the marketplace.
Forging a relationship with a locally-established Spokane referral partner also helped PayNorthwest gain trust from businesses in the area. “It can be difficult for service providers who don’t have a recognized brand to enter a new marketplace. We had to be able to find ways to build relationships and gain the trust of the community, and we have leaned on, and benefited from, the strength of our new referral partner relationship in that market,” Mike said.
Although PayNorthwest is still in the early stages of their market expansion, they hold an extremely positive outlook for the future growth of the company. With business growing significantly year-over-year, they plan to continue exploring new avenues of opportunity while maintaining the sustainable service excellence that they pride themselves on.