benefit of scarcityIt seems as though traditional business advice would oppose the idea of closing your doors to new customers. But, on this Friday eve as me and my team sit working away running on extra-strong coffee and opera music, closing is on our mind.

The benefit of scarcity.

Zirtual has been growing like gangbusters as of late and our sales in March have really knocked it out of the park. This is great in so many ways, but along with the upside of growth comes the downside of losing quality control—especially in a service business.

Because of this we set caps on how many clients each ZA manages at any given time; and, since we have a vigorous and often lengthy training process, natural scarcity is often created when high demand comes into play.

Some of the benefits of scarcity (whether it’s natural or fabricated—think: Gmail invites) are:

  1. You can focus on providing highly-customized service to a smaller client base.
  2. Scarcity breeds heightened desire—even lust—among non-users.
  3. Current users become an exclusive set who can easily be converted into brand evangelists by giving them a limited offering to share with others in their network.

The blessing of scarcity in a startup.

Usually a startups largest problem is the chicken and the egg dilemma. What will come first? The customers or the product? How do you scale both in unison? Too many clients and too little to offer can spell disaster and too few clients is often the kiss of death.

If you are lucky enough to have natural scarcity in your business model you can throttle supply and demand for a long time until you reach a point where you can actively and aggressively scale.

If yours isn’t a business that lends to scarcity, consider implementing it anyways. Gmail, Google + and Founders Card have all done wonderful jobs at creating scarcity where logically none should exist (it’s just as easy for Founders Card to accept 1,000 users as it is for it to accept 5).

Scarcity, Limited Membership and Zirtual.

Starting tonight Zirtual will be implementing a limited membership model for all of our three personal assistant plans. This model is described on our site:

“At Zirtual we’re a human-capital intensive business. This means we put a lot of effort into hiring the right people and training them to become legendary ZAs. We do this to ensure that each time we connect our client with an assistant it’s the right match for both parties. On the flip side, this means we have a limited number of memberships available each month, as we are always recruiting new talent but often demand outpaces our training process.”

When we are “closed” we’re offering 3 options to would-be clients:

1. Receive an invite from a current client.

2. Pre-purchase the plan of your choice in advance.

3. Join our waiting list.

We’re excited about our new model because it ensures that our current client base gets the best service possible—without the fear of their assistant becoming overwhelmed—and it gives a fun and exclusive way for our client base to share a service they love with their friends and colleagues.

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  • Mike Flynn