If the topic of revenue growth comes up in every management meeting, sales meeting, or board meeting – then you need to keep reading. Nine out of ten owners I speak with have companies that are functionally stagnant. That is, whatever growth they do have does not exceed the economic growth of their industry, market, or region. A company with an average revenue growth over time of 5% is barely keeping up with the economy in some sectors and is falling behind in many. Business Owners tell me all the time how important growth is to their future, but when I ask what they are doing about it – I hear crickets. It’s as if setting a goal was the same as achieving it. I want to share with you the five keys to growing intentionally. These keys will provide you both clarity and context in support of the commitment to grow your business. Entrepreneurial Bandwidth In order to grow, small companies need to reserve some “Entrepreneurial Bandwidth” in order for the owner to stay focused on new ideas, new products, and new markets. The best tool for that is a strong management team that responds well to the phrase, […]
For the average service company, approximately 30% of all revenue goes to outside suppliers or workers. Think about it: an average of one-third of your business execution relies on people and services outside your company. Is that such a bad thing? Many companies strive to avoid any outside costs such as subcontractors, short-term leasing, or professional services – and instead prefer to utilize only full-time employees, own all their resources, and rely on internal knowledge. However, these policies actually stagnate growth and increase overhead costs in slow months. Worse, such practices also force you to turn down business when there is plenty to be had. In other words, lack of outsourcing is the number one reason that some businesses aren’t able to grow or be consistently profitable. In order to break this cycle, we first have to defuse the thinking that goes behind it. There are three myths about outsourcing (at as it applies to live events and rental) that stifle business growth. Our People Are the Best While I can admire companies that pride themselves on always placing employees in key project positions (or in some cases, ALL positions), it doesn’t make business sense in a highly seasonal business […]
Tom explains how defining your business in customer terms will help you better match your products and services to customer needs.
I have been blogging lately on Customer Service topics, and I have to say I am disappointed that so many organizations misread what’s really important to their clients. I am sure I am no different – we all are too close to our own businesses to see the obvious. The saga of my search for a Photographer continued, with a happy ending. There are three important lessons for hiring a professional that I reaffirmed in this process: First, when seeking (or giving) a referral, consider the source. Second, trust your instincts. Third, there’s no substitute for loving what you do. A few weeks ago I blogged about my search for a photographer and how one well-recommended person could have easily won my business for a much higher fee by doing three simple things that cost no money at all. So, my search continued. I won’t bore you with the details, but I finally contacted the photographer that was recommended by a marketing professional (instead of my friend who recently had wedding portraits done). I felt he would be expensive and I was right – but it was SO worth it. There is a difference between being expensive and overpriced. The […]
As you read this, your company is experiencing a Customer Service Failure that neither you nor the person handling the problem is even aware of. That’s the hard part about maintaining customer satisfaction is that most representatives don’t know when they are facing a customer that is a victim of your failure. Customer Service failures are sometimes hard to spot. My example is my rental car company. I rent from one of the biggies (ok, it’s Avis) and have for years. I am very loyal – though it’s only because my other traveler friends say their rental car companies are just as bad – so why switch? That is a poor testimonial to customer service right there. My story though is the typical car rental experience. I am one of those people that is supposed to land at the airport and go straight to my car, show my driver’s license at the gate and off I go. To know which car I should take, I get an email (maybe 10% of the time) with its location or I check a big display that has my name and the location of my car (25% of the time). The other two-thirds of […]
Tom shares seven things that you need to do to allow yourself the privilege of working on your business.
I just tried to hire a photographer. She was recommended by a friend and her website and Facebook page didn’t suck, so I reached out. I sent an email using the ‘info@…” on the website and received thoughtful a reply the next day (with no signature line). After a short exchange we set a time for a phone call. So far so good. At the appointed time, I waited a good ten minutes for her call. I checked her email – no phone number. But using a phone number buried on her website I got a recording that said – get this: the Mailbox was full. Apparently I accidentally dialed a previous decade. Not so good anymore. So, I sent a polite email that triggered a call. She apologized and said a shoot had run long and let me know that she needed to fix her website and disconnect the old phone number I had called…wait, what? You are telling me this in the first ten seconds that you don’t know how to maintain your website, that you have a phone number that doesn’t work, and you have done nothing about it? Do go on. The photographer’s contribution to the […]
And What to Do About Them Your sales team is not converting high-quality opportunities and you need to get to the bottom of it. If we know the symptom, we can diagnose the problem and apply the most effective counter-attack. The most common symptoms of ineffective selling are 1. Customers buying on price, 2. Quoting drills, and 3. Not closing deals. When customers insist on shopping on price, we know that this is partly from a lack a good value perspective but we also need to take into account customer insecurity. Our most effective response is to ask better questions, specifically to uncover the moment that price became important to the buyer. There is no substitute for thoughtful intuition in a sales representative, but developing some scripted questions can help less experienced reps delve into the buyer’s thought process. Without Thinking Questions, sales reps become order processors. Sometimes the customer seems to want version after version of the proposal. This is a byproduct of an unqualified opportunity being allowed to move forward. Customers often use your proposals as a tool to better educate themselves on what you do, what their options are, and how choices affect pricing. Sellers need to […]
The average business owner can look around herself and witness a sea of problems. Products out of place, numbers in the wrong account, proposals with misspellings, safety compromises, or trash in the parking lot – each and every one of these is a clear and obvious failure on someone’s part to do their job, she thinks. So, instead of growing her business, refining strategy, cultivating new accounts, and managing finances, she gets up from her desk to find out who did this thing and why. Accountability is her watchword, but even after years and years of chasing problems down, showing one individual or a team the error of their ways, and tasking a manager to ‘stay on top of this’ – the problems persist. I have an important message for these owners and managers: Just. Stop. Start Removing Obstacles. Stop solving problems because it is a waste of time. Problems have already happened. You can’t fix them. You can address the issues created by the malfeasance, but you can’t take them back. A better alternative to focusing on problems, their sources, and the repercussions is to fix your process. The process of restocking and maintaining shelves is designed to keep […]