Which One of These Service-Based Agency Models Is Right For You?

Updated: Mar 17

Building a service-based agency gets a bad rap, if you ask me.

Service-based businesses are so often seen as all-consuming, time-sucking, just plain hard to scale. But here’s the thing: that’s not how they have to be.

In fact, running an agency with a Productized Service Model can make all the difference. This model can make it so. much. easier. to market, sell, and grow your service-based business.

To highlight the Productized Service Agency-Model, let’s explore the Consultant Service Agency-Model.

Two models for a service-based business

When you run (or want to run) an agency or a service-based business, there are two models that I take the time to explain.

Of the two, the Consultant Services Model for a freelancer upleveling to an agency is most known. This is also the model that has helped agencies gain the reputation of being hard to scale:

As you can see from the infographic above, when an agency runs on the Productized Service Model, they are not only choosing to be an expert but are building a business that can systematically deliver results.

A Productized Service is well-defined, well-organized, and consistent. From the messages that market it, to the customer who purchases it, to the internal processes that produce it, the productized service has predictability so that it can be systematized and delegated.

The Consultant Services Model has less predictability. This type of agency offers multiple solutions and often customizes solutions for customers. Since their solutions are so variable and less tangible than a productized service, they’re more difficult to market and build systems and processes for. After all, selling a solution creates expertise, but different solutions call for different messages.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying the Consultant Services Model is the wrong way to go.

I’m aware that some professionals enjoy unpredictability. They like serving different types of clients. They relish the challenge of customization. That’s perfectly valid!

But what I will say is this: if you want to grow your business while steadily becoming less tied to it, less consumed by its demands—and, be able to take a vacation while trusting that your team is growing the business — the Productized Services Model is worth investigating.

Here’s why.

Why Productized is the better bet for business freedom

Choosing the Productized Service Model—running an agency that’s known for solving specific problems with its system —means more business freedom.

It’s the clear choice if you want to grow your business, but also guard the sanctity of building a business that actually can give you freedom. Your Productized Service is easier to market, sell, and grow faster than bespoke services could be.

That’s because:

It sets you apart from the other 99 people who do what you do

This model sets you up as a trusted advisor/expert.

A defined package and process that achieves a clear result makes your expertise evident. Your productized service is something your ideal customer can wrap their mind around. They understand their problem, and how you deliver the exact right solution. That means they come chasing you, the Trusted Expert, instead of the other way around.

It sets clear business boundaries

When you’re offering a productized service, customers know what you deliver. All of a sudden, you’re not an “order-taker”, you’re a strategic partner.

It makes your messaging clear & consistent

With a Productized Service, you finally achieved clear, concise, and consistent messaging. That’s because you understand what your (one, ideal, specific kind of) customer’s pain points are. You’re able to verbalize it and make them feel like you “get” them.

It makes your “difference” tangible

With a productized service, you’re not dealing in vague outcomes or abstract concepts. It’s concrete, tangible…and way easier to market and sell because you know the real value that you bring.

It allows for consistent systems & processes

If you want to scale into multiple six and seven figures with less stress. A Productized Service helps you do that without reinventing the wheel constantly. You don’t have to reconfigure your team or how it carries out tasks with every single client.

You’ve figured out the most streamlined and automated way to deliver the product. Over time as you innovate, you add to or delete from the system and processes. But the predictability here is what makes it possible to grow the business without burnout or hustle.

It’s less time-intensive & truly scalable

The Productized Service model is less time intensive overall. That’s because your systems and processes create your solution. The solution isn’t just you -- the way it so often is with the Consultant Services Model. You can't be cloned but systems and processes are repeatable. This removes limitations to earning potential and enables you to truly scale with a lean team.

It’s less stressful

A "project-by-project" approach can be so stressful because it demands more project management. Every new variable in every new project has to be project managed differently.

And writing proposals? When you aren’t customizing constantly, you don’t need to generate new proposals for every single sales call.

It allows for value-based pricing

When you deliver a Productized Service, you’re delivering a clear, consistent outcome. That outcome is priced for its value to the client.

With time-tracking and charging for hours spent, you just get penalized for being efficient.

As business owners that makes zero sense, since our goal is to get real good at what we do and that naturally increases our efficiency.

An agency you’ll love running

Before you dive headfirst into figuring out how to build a Productized Service, I want to share that there is a time and place in every service-based business where a Productized Service makes sense. Is your business in the right place?

If you’re uncertain about when to get serious about a productized service or what is the next right step to build your service-based business, get my Business Growth Chart to save you time from spinning your wheels.

PS. A productized service is not something you come up with overnight or while you read this blog post. This is where a coach and strategist can help you avoid the pitfalls and build your business faster. Curious about productized services? Have a question? I’d love to hear from you at audrey@audreyjoykwan.com