At the end of every year or beginning of a new year, I take time to analyze or reorganize my business so that I can improve efficiency, client services, and profitability. Notice I did not say the word “Sales.” Why not? First, I’m not a sales coach and I do understand that sales are important. But if you get the sales but lack follow-up, have confused customers, operate inefficiently, and/or don’t handle your financials well, all the sales you can handle will not guarantee success. In fact, it may even hurt your potential for future sales and eventually lose your market share.
I want to focus on a few important considerations when planning for the future.
During this time of year, I look at seven key things:
- How Could I Increase Customer Exposure and Revenue per Customer?
What changes can be made in the coming year that will help increase my client base in the next twelve months? Maybe employee sales training. Or maybe a new advertising campaign. Keep in mind that about 70% of your clients are repeat customers so what can you do to get them to spend a bit more per transaction or use your product or service more often? Increase product and service offerings?
2. Dump Non-Profitable Services and/or Products
How may things are you involved with that generates virtually no profit? Focus on products and services that provide a high return on your investment. If it hasn't paid off yet, it never will. Maybe it is time to write off your losses and focus on something better.
3. Look for New Profitable Services and Products
Is there anything that you should be offering that you are not? Maybe you should take a second to look at what you were considering when you went to the last trade show or conference. Perhaps adding a service to your menu may bring in more clients that you couldn't get otherwise. Or perhaps there is a service that you could offer in your market that no one else is offering. For example, you may consider providing air quality assessments or products.
4. Evaluate Your Relationships at Work
Every team member needs to hear from a manager as to how they are doing and what is expected from them each year. Be honest and give real feedback and don't forget to reward good behavior! This is also a good time to look over your business relationships, such as: partners; vendors; and suppliers. Are you really benefiting from this relationship? Maybe re-evaluating relationships could save you some money and ultimately get you better service.
5. Evaluate Your Systems and Processes
This is a big one! No better time than right now to figure out what you are doing well and not so well, and how you can improve it. Get your team involved in this. You may also be missing some incredible efficiency improvement methods by not considering a technology change. There are so many systems available now that make running a business easier. You would be an idiot to not check them out. Also, if you are still hand writing invoices instead of using a tablet, please take the time to contact me and I'll recommend a few software providers that will take you out of the stone age with a very limited investment that will pay for itself in a few months.
6. Find New Ways to “WOW” Your Customers
Customers make buying decisions primarily based on emotions. Building relationships, creating awesome experiences, and doing things none of your competitors will do is what makes you the best at your game. Constantly be on the lookout on what can be done to enhance your offerings. Try calling and asking them, it does make a difference.
- Help Your Employees Manage Their Careers and Lives
The best employees work for the best companies and the best companies have the best employees. Getting employees involved in the success and growth of the company is essential and at the same time it is so important to help employees build their careers by offering training and career guidance. I visited one company that had a financial consultant from a local bank come in every few weeks to help employees manage their personal finances. The representative from the bank did it for free while trying to solicit new clients who, of course, were the employees. The company even invited spouses to participate. Those who required additional help would meet with the bank representative privately. Contact the bank you use and see if they could offer these services as well.
Take the time to look over your business. Re-engineer how things are done, listen to your team and take recommendations seriously. Call some clients and ask what you can do better and remember, there is always room for improvement.