So your sales may be steady and things seem OK but you’re noticing your profits are dwindling and it’s costing you sleep. Why does a company that is going well, keeping its customers happy and retaining good staff seem to be going backwards?
Well, it’s simple really.
Retaining customers without increasing your prices, keeping employees who get pay rises and sticking with suppliers who increase their prices all adds up, and your profits gradually get eaten up. If you’re not growing – you’re shrinking as they say.
In business as in life, if you’re not growing you’re actually dying. Think of a tree or a plant, if/when they stop growing they’ll wither and die and you have to think of your business in the same light.
So, how do you ensure you’re always in growth mode?
Here are nine easy to implement growth strategies that should provide fairly quick results:
1. Raise your prices
If you haven’t done it in the past year, you probably need to. The only person that this terrifies is you, but the reality is very few customers ever complain or even notice even a 10% shift. The ones who complain are probably already complaining about your prices and no doubt everything else. If you’re unconvinced try it on a few selected product/services first but believe me it works, I’ve done it with previous businesses I’ve owned.
2. Add on, Up-sell or Package
You never get to leave McDonalds without the obligatory ‘would you like fries with that?’. Learn from their systems, what can you add on, or how can you package your services and products together to get people buying more every time they do business with you?
3. Debtor management
OK, this maybe not strictly growth, but too many businesses I talk to have no formal debt collection system in place. Make the letters, calls and emails happen on a set schedule so people know to pay on time. Say as you do and do as you say.
4. Regular client contact
Just a simple monthly newsletter can be a good start and eventually can be turned into a masterpiece. People love to know how to buy from you again and again, teach them what’s happening right now so they stay in touch and see you often, even when they are not physically in your store. If you are not contacting your clients at least once a quarter they’re not your client.
5. Promote your entire range
You’ll be amazed how many times a business owner hears “I didn’t know you did that”. Make sure you have a marketing strategy to keep every customer or potential customer on your database aware of everything you do or sell. The obvious thing is to tie it in with your regular contact as above.
6. Sales training/mentoring
This is probably the biggest area of growth potential for any company with sales people. I am constantly astounded how many sales teams have never had any formal sales training yet the owners expect them to perform. Doctors, athletes and almost every other profession needs constant training, so do salespeople, keep them learning, hold them accountable and closing more and more deals.
Most companies make it so hard to refer people, how can you make it simple?
8. Test and measure
You cannot manage what you do not measure. You’ve got to know your numbers, everything from how many new leads you got today down to your break-even numbers. Without this otherwise you are aimlessly bobbing around in the ocean. Learn your numbers and you’ll be far more in control, make better and informed decisions and be far more profitable.
9. Follow up your prospects
Another bugbear of mine. It blows me away how many businesses don’t have a database of prospects or if they do how many don’t keep in touch with them. With the risk of repeating myself, if you’re not ‘touching’ your clients at least every 3 months they are not your clients and easy prey for your competitors.
Always make sure growth is on your agenda. Set new goals, targets and challenge yourself and your team. Ask big questions and the chances are you’ll get big answers!