If you don’t plan to grow, you won’t. Pete Baker explains.
It’s a brand new year; how do you want the year ahead to be written into your company history?
Realistically, several options exist. You could shrink, flat line or grow.
When business is good, it is easy to get caught up in the daily ‘busy work’; to tackle what is directly in front of you. But, nothing good lasts forever. There will always be bumps, twists and turns and potholes to avoid.
The responsibility of making this the best year ever in your company’s history is 99% in your hands. Yes, I am well aware of economic issues, currency fluctuations and countless other factors that threaten your business. But, I would ask you a few simple questions:
- How much market share do you currently have in your territory? Would you like to have more?
- How often do you sell upgrades or additional products to your existing customer base?
If you are satisfied with the answers you provided to each of these questions, then you are likely on the right track. If not, let’s explore some ways to improve in these two important areas and maybe a couple others.
How to grow can be a real head scratcher, and a painful process to consider. Many businesses simply avoid tackling this topic and just hope and pray for the best, which may work for a little while but will eventually lead to failure. The following is a plan that worked successfully for years and one that I still use today.
G: Germinate new opportunities.
Explore ways that you can expand your business. A few examples of this, being used successfully by dealers now, are as follows:
- What new homes are being built in your area? Have you driven around to look for new opportunities? Stop by and introduce yourself to the builder. Create a simple flyer to put in mailboxes. I just spoke with a dealer last week, who turned a cold call, at a new construction site, into a 5 year and $5,000,000 business engagement; one customer with multiple homes around the world.
- Get your name out there: Do you have some thoughts on technology that may be interesting to members of the community? Contact your local paper and ask if you can contribute some occasional articles on technology. (I was booted out of English composition class in High School, but look at me now! Thankfully, I have a great editor to work with, who makes me look way smarter than I am.)
- Embrace social media and hire a professional (or a skilled teenager) to manage your social media efforts for you.
R: Retain your existing Customers
Statistics state that it can costs seven time more to acquire new customers than to retain and existing one. Many companies fail miserably at Customer Acquisition and Retention (CAR). Here are some simple tips to remain fresh and important to your customers:
- Far and away #1: Provide the best possible customer service experience to your customers! Look at some of the companies that are rocking now: Apple, Amazon, Starbucks. If you want to succeed, long term in this era, you absolutely must get the customer service thing right …. or pack up your toys and go home!
- Stay in contact with your customers. Create and email blast campaign with MailChimp, Constant Contact or a similar solution. They are very easy to set up and use and are often free or very cheap. Make the content simple, short and interesting to your customers. Try a 5-7 bullet email newsletter, once a month or every quarter with some info on the latest technology and maybe a call to action with a limited time, special offer.
- Check in with your customers on occasion to see how everything is working. I would reserve the first Wednesday of every month to contact every customer we completed a project for, during the previous month.
- Encourage your customers to follow you on social media and make your posts fun and interesting for them to receive.
O: Opportunities exist outside of your customer base – go find them!
Develop a customer acquisition plan. Consider some of the following options:
- Create a spiff plan for some of your customers: Give them a gift certificate to a great restaurant, an iTunes gift card or a coupon to your store for referrals.
- How do they remember you? In the past, I gave out a custom-made popcorn bowl with my company name on it; loaded with movie candy and popcorn to every customer. The net cost for this gift was roughly $40.00; pretty cheap advertising.
W: Widen your business with existing customers.
Exploring ways that you can expand your business. A few examples of this, being used successfully by dealers now, are as follows:
- Have you fully embraced enterprise grade networking solutions and added them as a key product category in your business and an essential element in your proposals?
- Have you considered adding device monitoring and supervision or service contracts to your proposals. This is one of the hottest categories in CE now, and many dealers are having great success and higher customer satisfaction by making this a standard part of their business.
- Outdoor Installations: Don’t forget the great outdoors. Many families spend a large amount of their time outdoors. The Audio and Video entertainment outdoors can often be over looked or served by less adequate systems than the consumer may desire, given the family time invested in the area.
Best wishes for great success with your business in the year ahead, I hope it is your best ever!
For more information or questions, please feel free to email me any time at: firstname.lastname@example.org