team stepping up

Does Your Team Step Up or Sit Out?

It’s been a crazy year. One filled with a lot of changes. And for those who own a business, it is taking leadership, innovation, creativity and a lot of team work to keep it together (or maybe afloat). During difficult times, we learn a lot about ourselves – and the people we have in place to support our business.

Some of you saw your people step up. They brought new meaning to the word collaboration. Looked for better ways to serve customers. Came up with new product and service ideas. Developed systems to help operate efficiently and safely. In short, they embraced change, worked together and made a difference. You know you have the right team so the future looks good on that front.

Others weren’t so lucky. Some business owners realized they didn’t have a team. They had a group of individuals who were content to sit on the sidelines. No commitment to the business, customers or each other.

The good news is that you can change the story line as you head into 2021. Make hiring a priority – and have a system in place to help you do it right. Bring in quality people to support the business. Then create a culture that promotes collaboration and team work.

Related: Hiring | 7 do’s and don’t to make your efforts pay off

Team Building Secret

So, what is the secret to building a great team? It’s not about paying them a lot of money, but always pay them what they are worth.  It’s not about giving them weeks and weeks of paid time off. But getting paid to enjoy time away is always appreciated. You may be surprised to learn that some of the best ways to build a strong team cost you very little.

#1 – Get Them Engaged.

Vince Lombardi had the right idea. “Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work and a civilization work.” Individual commitment comes from participation and understanding.  The more involved your team is, the more committed they are to its success.  And since some of the best ideas for business growth and improvement come from employees, it’s time to get them engaged.  Then everyone wins!

#2 – Show Appreciation.

As human beings, we want recognition and need to feel appreciated. It’s natural. So what do you do to make your team feel appreciated? Again, it’s not about money.  Yes, token gifts or group lunches are nice; but simple things like thank you for a job well done, recognizing them in front of peers and customers, and soliciting their suggestions goes a long way.  All it takes is a little forethought and some of your time!

#3 – Volunteer Together.

With so many needs in local communities, this is an opportunity to work together outside the traditional work environment. These projects help you get to know co-workers as people. It’s a great way to build personal relationships. Find a volunteer project the team can get behind – and do it together. Have fun while you help others.

#4 – Give Them Authority

When you give people the opportunity and authority to be their best, you will get the best out of them. Provide your team with the guidance they need. Then give them the authority to make decisions and solve problems. It’s the best way to demonstrate trust.

Get Your Team Off the Sidelines

When your people are committed and in the game, you set yourself up for success. So, make sure you hire the right people, invest in their development and create a collaborative culture. When you do, you and your business will be in a better place. One where you will survive whatever the world throws at you – even a pandemic!

Need help? Let’s discuss. Schedule a free 30 minute consultation.  Book an Appointment

 

Hiring Process

Hiring: 7 Do’s and Don’ts to Make Your Efforts Pay Off

A strong team makes it possible for any small business to accomplish great things.  But when it comes to hiring, many owners  just wing it, and often end up disappointed and frustrated.

Getting  the right people is not easy, but if you do it well, you won’t be doing it so often!  Here are some do’s and don’ts to make your hiring system pay off – in terms of sales, productivity, and profit.

Do Build a Case for Your Hiring Decisions.   Before you rush out and replace an employee or bring in additional help – stop!  Be clear on what you need, why you need it and what it will cost.  Think long-term not just quick fixes.

Do Create a Good Job Description.  Think beyond just duties and responsibilities.  What skills must the person possess to accomplish the job and add value to your company? A good job description sets the expectations for the position and can provide the clarity you need – so you attract what you want.

Do Require a Resume. With online job sites for almost every position out there, most candidates have a resume of some type. Resumes are a great way to evaluate written communication skills and can be helpful in weeding out those you don’t want.  So make them a part of your hiring process – ask for them!

Do Phone Screening of Applicants.  A 10-minute phone screen, with relevant questions,  can save countless hours of time.  Beyond getting clarification on resume information, a phone screen is a great way to evaluate verbal communication skills.

Don’t Go It Alone.   As a small business owner, you likely interview most candidates.  But why not allow other employees to participate in the interview process.  We all pick up different things and input from others can be very helpful in making good hiring decisions.  If you are a solo owner, ask another solo-owner to interview your candidates and return the favor for him/her when needed.

Do Reference and Background Checks.  Face it, some people polish the apple a bit or just flat-out lie on resumes and throughout the interview process.  Before you jump in and offer someone a position, do your homework.  Get business references and call them.  Confirm their employment and the dates – then ask the magic question, ‘Would you re-hire the candidate’.  A simple yes or no will speak volumes.  And don’t forget to do a little online research.  Facebook, Linked-In and other social media platforms are helpful. Google and other search engines can also provide information, good and bad, on potential employees.  Use it.   If background checks or assessments are part of your process, do them too.

Do Not Settle.  I know that being short-staffed can be frustrating, but hiring the wrong person, just to get someone in there, will cause more damage.  It can hurt productivity even further, kill employee morale and cost you in the long run.

Finally, believe you can get quality people within your company.  If you believe you can, you will.  Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.  So whether you are replacing a current employee or hiring for the first time, invest the time to do it right.  The people in your company represent YOU – so set high standards and integrate these suggestions into your hiring process or system.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

Effective leadership

Ready to Lead Your Team?

Leadership is tested most during times of crisis or change. Are you ready to lead your team? To be the leader your team needs, start by focusing on these four areas.

Communication

Good communication skills are important at all levels of business. But it can be challenging with some or all employees working remotely.  Keeping a pulse on what’s going on is more difficult. Casual chats as you walk around and lunch room conversations aren’t there for you. Getting informal communication or feedback requires planning and initiative.

  • Schedule brief catch up calls with your staff. Encourage others to do the same. Nothing says I care more than a one-on-one conversation.
  • Zoom and Google Meet are great tools for bringing the team together. They can replace onsite meetings. Just don’t over-do it! Keep them brief and have an agenda.
  • Keep email communication clear and simple. They are a great way to keep your team up-to-date on what is going on.
  • If you use text, use it wisely. Would you want to receive text messages all day and night from your boss or colleagues?

Redefine Goals & Expectations

Most small businesses have undergone changes over the past six months. Some are as simple as safety protocols while others changed their business model, products or operations. Right now, you may be focused on re-opening or getting fully operational.

But with the knowledge you have gained and trends you’ve watched, take a hard look at your overall business. Your team, operations, customer service, products, systems and margins may need revamping to handle changes in attitudes and behaviors. It’s not about surviving – but thriving in the months or years ahead.

Communicate your vision for the future. Clarity from you can also reduce stress on them! Set clear goals and expectations so everyone is on the same page.

Accountability

Communication and clear goals are a good start and something your team needs from you. But make sure you give people the tools, support and authority to do their jobs and achieve the results you all want. Build in accountability.

By definition, accountability is the acknowledgement and assumption of responsibility for actions, decisions and implementation within the scope of their job. It comes with an obligation to report, explain and take ownership for results.

The best way to build accountability within your company is through follow-up. Check on progress along the way. When you follow up on projects or tasks you reinforce their importance. It also gives you the opportunity to recognize their work, keep them motivated – or help get them back on track if necessary.

Delegation

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things, but the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” If you believe the words of President Ronald Reagan, you have the ability to be a great leader. You simply need to open doors for others on your team to accomplish great things.

It starts with delegation. Sure effective delegation saves you time and allows you to focus on the right stuff. But it’s really more than that. When you effectively delegate work to others, you allow them to learn new skills and take on more responsibilities. It helps you empower others to accomplish great things for you and your company.

Related: How to Delegate Effectively

Mentoring

If you take care of your team, your team will take care of your business. Good leaders understand this so they make teamwork and developing others a priority.

We’ve all had people in our lives who we admired or learned from. They make a difference and are often unforgettable. Many of these individuals are former bosses, coaches, teachers or business colleagues. And when you ask people about them, you will often hear “I learned so much from him/her”.

You too can be that person in your company. Whether you teach them directly or open the doors to learning, you have the ability to help your team reach their full potential. Share your knowledge. Promote training and development within your company. Be the serving leader your team needs to excel at work and in life.

Related: Leadership: What Makes Some Great

Ready to Take a New Path?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business in a new direction? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

There no obligation, only opportunity. So call me at (856) 533-2344 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

products services

Do Products & Services Need a Facelift?

Products and services have a shelf life because customer needs change over time. Do your need a facelift? Are your products and services a want, need or must have? The right products and services make marketing and sales growth easier. 

5 Ways To Improve Offers and Grow Revenue

#1 Create a new product or service

What do your customers want or need today that you could easily offer or integrate into your services? They can be big or small. The key to success here is to ensure it’s a natural fit for your other products.  They should compliment your current offers and be logical to customers based on your company’s reputation and experience.

#2 Offer a simpler or smaller version

Can you take something away or simplify it to make it more affordable to your target customers? This may be a way to create an easy entry to your company. From there, you can up-sell or cross-sell products in the future.

#3 Upgrade a product or service

What can you add to create a premium version or upgrade to something you already sell? What would your ideal customers value? Consider what your competition does or does not provide. One of the keys is to do a little research by talking to your ideal target customers. What do they want, what are they willing to pay?

#4 Bundle into a package

While bundled services may cost more as a package, they typically deliver more value in the long-term and ultimately save customers money. The key with packaging services is to create them for a niche or small segment of your market. Do not try to create packages that serve everyone or you will ultimately serve no one.

#5 Update your current products or services

Since the needs of customers change over time, your products and services need to keep up. Do the value-added features you include still matter to customers? If not, remove them and save the money. Are there services that you need to add that are now expected? If so, find a cost-effective way to incorporate them. Feedback from customers makes this easier to do. So evaluate your services and modify them as needed.

Communicate Changes and Improvements

When you give your products and services that much-needed upgrade, remember to communicate it! While many small businesses promote a new product, they often overlook communicating improvements or changes to existing products or services. Announcements in newsletters or email campaigns, press releases, a simple business letter, direct mail piece, updates on social media or even a ‘New’ icon on your product website can often do the trick.

Don’t overlook the product or service development side of your business. It’s an important part of marketing. And rem to communicate the changes you make. Your bottom line will thank you.

Ready to Put Your Business on a Better Path?

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support and accountability from an expert help you take your business to a new level of success? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

customer churn1

How to Fix Customer Churn

Even if you do everything right, some level of customer churn is going to happen. Customers may move away or outgrow the need for your product or service. But if you dig deeper, you will find that most customer churn is controllable. You and your team have the ability to retain valued customers.

Why Customers Churn or Leave

When businesses lose valued customers, they often assume it is related to price or competition. But too often, that’s the go-to reason to justify the loss – covering up the real issues.

Related:  Pricing: 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid to Build Profit

  • Outdated products or services. Customer needs change. So should your products or services. Do yours need a facelift?
  • Lack of engagement or perceived indifference. Most businesses invest a lot of resources on new customers. What are you doing to make valued customers feel important? Make sure they know you care.  
  • Poor customer service or quality. It’s all about your customers’ expectations. They deal with a lot of companies and industries, not just yours. What should your customer experience look like? Does your team have the tools and know-how to deliver it consistently?
  • Attracting the wrong customers. It is not easy to turn away customers. But too many one-and-done sales or dissatisfied clients do not help your business. You want people who value, want and need what you offer. People whose problems you can solve – and are happy to pay for it. Is your marketing and sales attracting the right customers?
  • Over promise and under deliver. If customers expect the Taj Mahal and get a hut, they feel cheated. When it comes to quality, service, performance, lead time, results or other benefits — be honest.

How to Retain Valued Customers

Get Your House in Order. If customer service or quality levels are broke, work to fix them. It’s the number one way to reduce customer churn and retain customers. If you fail to deliver what you promise, customers won’t stick around and will share their bad experiences with others. Identify what you want the ‘buying experience’ to look like and have procedures and tools in place to help your people deliver it consistently. 

Related: 13 Ways to Make Your Service Business a Profit Sensation

Talk to Customers. Customer needs change over time. So, take the time to ask them for feedback on what they need and how well you are meeting their needs and expectations. It’s also a great way to uncover new product or service opportunities.

Reward Retention. If retention is really a priority in your business, demonstrate this to your team. Set goals for improvement areas and reward the team when they are accomplished. This approach works for any improvement you wish to make. It becomes a focus for your team. And with focus comes improvement.

Choose People Wisely. When you hire employees or select subcontractors to interact with your customers, make sure they value customers and possess the skills to deliver to your standards. Are they empathetic and trustworthy? Can they communicate well and listen? Each customer contact with you, your team or other partners is an opportunity to build your reputation or destroy it. Make the selection of people a priority.

Say Thank You. Sounds obvious but consider this. When was the last time you received a personal thank-you note from a company you do business with? This simple strategy can really make an impact and says a lot about your company and the value you place on customers.

Stay Connected. Social media can certainly keep your name in front of customers, but nothing beats a personal approach. Whether you do it by phone, mail or email, make sure your customers know you are thinking of them. Too often, we only connect when we’re trying to sell something. A simple thank you, a request for feedback, or a holiday greeting card can all do the trick. If you want to add a special offer, just for them, even better! While the frequency may vary based on your business or industry, quarterly contacts should be your minimum goal!

Make Customers Feel Important. Your current customers need to feel more appreciated than non-customers or prospects. While new customers are important to growth, make sure current customers get some VIP treatment. Programs, offers or specials that are exclusively available to them work well – so build some into your marketing efforts.

Make Service Everyone’s Job. Does everyone in your company understand the value of customers and are they ready to help them regardless of whose job it really is? Train your team on customer service and give them the tools and ability to take care of your customers. From the receptionist to the technician or delivery driver, your team will make an impression. The kind they make is up to you!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support and accountability from an expert help you take your business to a new level of success? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

mktg strategies

Choosing the Best Marketing Strategies

Is growing your customer base your top priority in 2020? The good news is you have hundreds of ways to create leads and new relationships. But with so many options, is it any wonder small business owners get overwhelmed? Yet choosing the best marketing strategies for your business is a key to getting more customers — and doing it profitably.

Past performance can be a good indicator. So start there. When evaluating previous marketing strategies, consider three things:  the number of leads generated, the quality of those leads and your return on investment.  If something is working, keep doing it.

If it’s not producing enough quality sales, then it’s time to look in other directions and add some new methods to your mix.  

7 Questions to Choose the Best Marketing Strategies

What products or services do I want to promote? You don’t need to promote every product or service you offer. Invest in the most profitable or those that are in highest demand. Avoid trying to sell everything to everyone with your marketing. It’s costly and a recipe for failure. 

Related: Do Your Products or Services Need a Facelift?

How do my target customers like to give and receive information? Too often businesses choose what is trendy or maybe low-cost. Do your customers prefer communication in-person, by phone, email, snail mail, digital, or social media? It may vary based on the type of information. And they may be okay with multiple methods. Choose what works best for them.

How many contacts do I actually need to build relationships and create sales for my business? It takes more than one or two contacts to build awareness, nurture relationships and create a sale. With so much noise in the market, seven to ten is more the norm. For higher priced services, where prospects may perceive more risk, the number of contacts may be greater. So build a variety of possible touch-points and deliver the same message consistently.

How can I get existing customers to keep buying, buy more or buy more frequently? The short answer is stay connected and continue to market to them. Invest some of your marketing dollars on your current and past customers. It’s also a lot cheaper to market to those who already know and like you!

How much time and money should I invest? Consistency in marketing matters. Marketing strategies have both a time and money component. Some, like networking and social media, are low-cost but consume a lot of time. Others, like direct mail or pay-per-click, require a higher money investment but little time. The key is to balance out your time and money investments so you can do marketing consistently throughout the year.

What do I like and what am I good at? Let’s face it, nothing happens until you implement your marketing strategies. When choosing, most people avoid what they dislike or struggle with. It makes them uncomfortable. First, recognize this bias and try some things outside your comfort zone. Then do what others do: delegate, outsource or learn how to do it effectively.

How do I systematize my marketing so it gets done easily, effectively and profitably? Once you have decided on what you want to do, create the campaign, implement it, monitor it, modify it and document it! Look for ways to make it easy, repeatable and more effective the next time. When your marketing takes less time and effort and still delivers the return on investment you want, you will find it’s not so overwhelming. You may actually grow to like it!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

prioritize-business-goals

4 Ways To Prioritize Your Business Goals

When it comes to planning, most business owners are not short on ideas for growing sales and profit. They set goals and identify what they need to do to get there. As you put the finishing touches on your action plan, avoid the tendency to make everything a priority that must be done in the first quarter.

You only have so many resources – people, time and money. You still have a business to run and customers to serve. Be realistic about what you and your team can accomplish each month and quarter. Set priorities.  What comes first, second and so forth.

4 Ways To Set The Priorities in Your Plan
Top Challenge.

What is the #1 challenge you face today in your business?  Is it getting new customers, getting more from the ones you already have, making more profit from your current sales, delivering consistent service to customers, having the right people or getting more from them?  Choose at least one or two that address your biggest challenge and work on them first.

Complexity.

How much work and other resources are required to complete the tasks or projects you identified in your plan. The more complex, the fewer you can reasonably handle in a short period of time.

With large, complex projects break down the tasks and spread them out over a few months.  This allows you to make progress without getting overwhelmed, putting them off or ignoring other areas in your business.  For example, a new website or how-to (procedures) manual will take  more than a month. A marketing campaign or customer feedback survey can be done within 30 days.

Natural Prerequisites.

Sometimes there are things you must do first because they are tied to the success of something you want or need to do in the future.  Here are a few examples.

  • If you plan to use social media, email or other online strategies but don’t have a website (or your current one needs updating), then the website should be done first to get the most bang from your other efforts.
  • If you get a lot of leads but struggle with converting them to paying customers, you might want to focus on ways to improve your sales conversion rates before you invest in new lead generation or marketing.
Time versus Money.

In a perfect world, we seek balance.  But if money is tight, then focus initially on things that are low or no cost to help you build more revenue, profit, and cash flow.  Then invest in strategies that require additional financial resources.

One caution as you set the priorities in your plan.  Don’t prioritize based on what you like or what is easy.  Putting off what is important for what is easy is just another form of procrastination.  Focus on what will get you results – more sales, profit, control or freedom.

Planning Resources

Planning Resources - Act NowAre you looking for ideas or assistance with setting priorities for next year? My Business Success Checklist can help. Click here for the free download and see how you measure up.

If setting goals and creating an action plan are holding you back, my Ultimate Goal and Action Plan Guide can help you create your own roadmap. My step-by-step method includes tools,  templates, and samples to make it easy for small business owners. Click here to learn more.

business-run-smoothly1

Does Your Business Run Smoothly?

A well-run business is a dream come true for a business owner. It allows you to focus on what’s important – growth and profitability. It also gives you the freedom to take time off without skipping a beat.

No business owner wants to spend their days putting out fires, fixing mistakes or doing the work they pay others to do. Yet many do because their business doesn’t run without their constant involvement. You can’t prevent every potential problem, but you can take steps to improve your situation.

Identify the Gaps in Your Operations

A business is a structure of people and systems that evolve over time. Together they bring predictability into the workplace. So, attracting the right people and developing quality systems for them is a key to growth, profitability and freedom.

Related: How People and Systems Power Profit

Got systems and good people? Then you are already on the right path. But remember, as your business grows, your systems and people also need to change. Is your team structured properly and do their job responsibilities take advantage of new skills and technology? Are you doing things the same way you always did (just because) or do you continuously look for better ways to improve all areas of your business?

Periodically review your systems and people so you continue to evolve in the right direction.    

Explore Additional Opportunities

While systems and people provide a strong business foundation, here are a few things to consider as well — if you want your business to run smoothly.

#1 – Do we cross-train employees so no critical task is dependent on one person?

A company doesn’t stop because the owner or other staff are sick or away from the business. Customers still expect to be served and have problems solved. Employees still expect to be paid. So important tasks should never be dependent on one person. If you have systems documented, it’s easier to cross-train others so the work still gets done. Make cross-training your team a priority.

#2 – Is there too much focus on the quantity of work done — and too little on the quality?

Customers expect quality when it comes to service, products and people. Doing things right the first time, every time is important. While mistakes happen, the cost of poor or inconsistent quality costs you more than you think. You want your team to be efficient but don’t sacrifice quality for production.  Promote a quality first mentality within your company.

RELATED: How to Get It Right the First Time

#3 — Are you using technology to improve efficiency, communication and more in your business?

With so many affordable options, small and mid-sized businesses now have easy access to tools that simply make it easier to run a business. Whether you want to collaborate and share work without meetings, allow customers to directly schedule appointments, provide easy, non-traditional pay options, create instant quotes at the customers home/business, permit employees to effectively work remotely or communicate successfully with individuals or groups – there are apps for that. 

Use of technology can certainly improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. Solid reasons to integrate it into your daily operations. But it can also help improve hiring and retention. Why? Because millennials (GenY) are tech-savvy; they grew up using it. They expect and embrace technology in the workplace. If you want to attract and retain them, look for ways to employ technology into your business.

#4 — Do you have consistent methods to get feedback from customers?

Most owners recognize the value of online reviews and make getting them a priority. Research indicates that 80% of potential buyers (even those that come by way of referral) check reviews, recommendations and testimonials as part of their buying decision. So, the focus makes perfect sense.

While reviews can reinforce what you do well and maybe uncover an area for improvement, they have limitations. When you are considering new products/services or looking for ideas to improve, who better to ask than your loyal customers (and employees). Nothing beats a one-on-one or small group conversation. Don’t let online reviews replace other forms of feedback. Do both! 

#5 — Do you track metrics that are important – and work as a whole team to correct issues we uncover.

When used properly, analytics are simply a decision-making tool — in sports and in business. They shouldn’t replace experience or even your gut instincts. But they can help you uncover opportunities for improvement.

Many businesses track sales metrics because they impact revenue or income. But what about your operations and service? On-time delivery, quality (re-works, defects), back-orders, labor hours, cycle times and complaints all impact your profitability and long-term sales.  Find the gaps in your operations and work as a team to fix them.  

Planning for Next Year   

Growth, profit and freedom don’t just happen by accident. Now is a good time to give some thought to operational improvements – and build them into your plans for the coming year.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support and accountability from an expert help you take your business to a new level of success? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

business-stand-out2

Make Your Business Stand Out

Your customers are exposed to over 5,000 messages every day. So how do you get through the clutter and make your business stand out – without doubling your marketing budget? The key is a strong USP or unique selling proposition. When you nail it, marketing is a lot more effective so you can spend less and get more.

The latest, innovative product or service – something that nobody else offers – is one way to create uniqueness. But it’s not the only way.  Service delivery, processes, people, technology, performance and other factors can help your small business stand out in the crowd. If you do it consistently well and tell people over and over again.

Determine What Makes you Unique

The best way to discover your uniqueness is to look at your business from the outside. When working through this with my clients, we start by answering the following questions.

What do you actually sell?  Think benefits, not features.

What are your core products or services? Think beyond highest sales volumes or those that are common for your type of business. Your products or services can differentiate you, so look at them closely.

Related: How to Diversify Your Products to Maximize Profit

Who are your key competitors?  Based on the benefits you deliver, consider actual competitors who do the same thing AND those who potentially deliver the same benefits with different products or services.  Since you compete for a share of the budget, this can be helpful.  

What are the perceived standards in your industry and other industries? Consider customer service, technology, product quality, sales and marketing. Your customers’ expectations are built from experiences with a lot of industries – not just yours.

What are some ‘claims’ about your products, services or business that you take for granted – and assume customers know about? Coors built their USP around their cold brewing process. While not unique in the industry, Coors was the first to actually tell people about it. And they still benefit from that message today.

Narrow Your Options

As you go through the process of brainstorming and answering these questions, ideas will pop into your head.  Write them down, no matter how silly they may appear at first glance. Use all the information to come up with a few options to consider.

Next do a little research with your customers. Bounce some options off them. Did they know this about you or your business?  Do they care?  Why or why not?  What does this claim say about your products, service or overall business?

Find something you do so well that you can guarantee it, especially if your industry has a reputation for doing this poorly.  Look for a process in your business that links your products or services to quality or performance or reduces risk.

Sometimes simple things, such as custom scheduling blocks to eliminate long wait times, can make you stand out.  You only need ONE.   Identify your claim to fame and make it the focal point in your communication to customers and prospects.

Related: Is Your USP Compelling to Those Who Matter?

Need another set of eyes to help you define your claim to fame? Let’s do it together. Call me at (856) 533-2344 to learn more or get started.
Break down barriers

Break Down the Profit Barriers

Marketing alone won’t solve your revenue or profit woes. It can actually erode profit further if done in a vacuum. Profit comes from a combination of factors working well together. If you want better business results, you need to break down the profit barriers between marketing, sales and operations.

Avoid Operating in a Vacuum

Marketing simply provides an opportunity to generate additional revenue. The key word here is opportunity. Regardless of what marketing tools you choose, most marketers evaluate their effectiveness based on activities or engagement metrics such as likes, clicks, calls, requests for quotes, appointments or visits.

But as the owner, actual sales generated and the associated profitability are far more important to your bottom line. Metrics like sales conversion rates, dollar amount of sale, and gross profit margins are vital measures for sales and marketing.

So how does your operations fit into marketing and sales discussions? Think about service levels and the impact they have on your reputation (future sales) and repeat business. The best marketing and sales efforts will be wasted if you don’t deliver what you promise customers in terms of quality and service. Customer satisfaction, on-time delivery, quality (rejects/reworks) and customer retention metrics can help you determine how well you perform in this critical area.

When you want to grow both revenue and profit, where should you apply your resources – time and money? The metrics above can be useful uncovering opportunities and weaknesses. So, it’s a good starting point. But here are a few other things I find helpful with clients.

Connect the Dots – and the People

Growing a business requires a full team effort. You need all your employees to provide creativity and commitment. It’s difficult to be successful when your marketing, sales and operations teams operate in silos. While they all have their roles, they can accomplish more when they work together with one common goal – to acquire and retain quality customers.

Bring down the barriers that tend to exist in many businesses – big and small. Connect the dots and leverage everyone’s knowledge and experience. Whether you are building a plan or solving a problem, tap into all the people resources in your business. Different perspectives can often bring better solutions or ideas.

Fix the Weaknesses

Before you invest more money in marketing, make sure your team is ready to convert the sales and deliver what you promise. There’s no point in getting leads – and then disappointing prospects or customers along the way.

For that reason, my work with clients on marketing always starts with an analysis of sales and operations. And yours should too. In addition to the metrics I mentioned earlier, here are a few additional things to consider as you look to improve these three areas:

Sales
  • Do our sales people have the training and skills to nurture leads, sustain relationships and close sales?
  • Are we prospecting for our own leads or do we rely heavily on inbound leads from other sources?
  • Is there too much emphasis on sales – and too little on profit or long-term value?
  • Do we track activities and results so discussions with others, including the owner, are based on data – along with customer feedback and gut.
Operations
  • Do our people have the training and appropriate levels of authority to do what is needed to solve customer issues or problems?
  • Is there too much focus on the quantity of work done – and too little on the quality?
  • Are we using technology to continuously improve efficiency, response time, scheduling and communication?
  • Do we have a consistent method to get feedback from our customers?
  • Do we track complaints and metrics that are important – and work as a whole team to correct issues we uncover.

Related: How to Turn a Quick Fix into a Permanent Solution

Marketing
  • Are we opening the right doors for sales – and reaching the right prospects?
  • Is our message compelling and clear so it sets the right customer expectations?
  • Does our pricing align with our brand and value proposition – while providing the margins we need or want?
  • Is our marketing diversified to reach prospects through various methods?
  • Are we consistent and timely but flexible enough to take advantage of unique opportunities that may arise?

If you want a business that consistently delivers sustainable growth and profitability, break down the profit barriers and leverage your business for success.

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