Do one thing and do it well. Do it better than anyone in the area. Do it better than anyone in your county. Do it better than anyone in the state, or even the nation. Most business owners make the mistake of being in too many different businesses at once, and for most of the 1990s I was one of them.
It’s amazing how easy it becomes to justify buying a $10,000 copy machine to cut down on your print-shop bills when the payments are just $89 a month. Or to expand the line of products you sell to your existing client base beyond the areas of your core business. While clients may trust you with their billing, they may not trust you with their office supplies or vice versa. Focus on being known for one concept and build your business around that core value.
Go to any large company and try to find a phone number you can call and actually speak to a human being. Most hide behind FAQ pages that seldom seem to answer YOUR UNUSUAL QUESTION. They hide behind “contact us” with a drop-down menu of choices, none of which actually matches your issue. If you do find an 800 number to call, it’s usually a voice mail sending you back to the website or an endless loop of choices you can’t actually execute because you don’t have the 15-digit code they want (in fact that’s why you’re calling).
When clients want to get hold of you, they want to do it now. Few things are more irritating than calling a service provider and being shuffled to voice mail automatically, with little or no indication whether the person you are looking for is in the office or traveling through Kenya on safari. I made a huge leap in business and customer service at my karate schools when I bought a cellular phone and answered my phone sixteen hours a day instead of eight.
There are lots of concrete things business owners can do to measure the performance of their businesses. You can measure profit and loss, the number of clients you have, your market share, or the number of widgets that you can produce in a day.
These are all important measures that can be seen in black-and white reports, but there are other less tangible items that should be also be measured.
Other than the very obvious problems of stretching themselves too thin, both from a cash flow and talent point of view, the number-one reason that causes second locations to fail is simply the lack of business systems. When an owner opens up a second store, he or she naturally assumes that the second store will be run just like the first. The only problem is they forget that you can’t be in two places at once.
Business methods and protocol that the owner takes for granted are not followed at the second store, or if the owner opens the second store, they soon go by the wayside at the first location. With systems, this cannot happen.
Double your income in 60 seconds! Sounds ridiculous right? I mean, if increasing business was that easy you’d already have thought of it and EVERYONE would be doing it, right? Actually, no. In fact, you’d be astonished at how easy it is to increase income. It’s so simple that no one ever seems to do it! Before I give you the answer, let me share one old and a couple of recent experiences with you.
Several years ago I toured a very high-end Florida real-estate community with my wife. During the 45-minute tour the salesman on four occasions told us what he thought of “rich” people. (Apparently, as we told him we were looking for only a million dollar house, he did not think us one of the evil rich people!) He trashed the president (Bush), which I know was a popular sport back then, but he should have found out which way I learned before doing it. To top it all off, at the end of the presentation, he said, “That’s it, no high-pressure sales here!” FINE, and there are no sales happening there either!
A common mistake I see is companies wasting money in an effort to give equal resources to different parts of their business that may NOT deserve investment.
For example, when I first took over the marketing for a big resort in Michigan they had two distinct seasons, summer and winter. In the summer they marketed golf, and in the winter cross-county skiing and snowmobiling. While the marketing budget for the winter was smaller, it was still significant. But there was a problem. In the summer, with room rates higher, and people playing golf and eating and drinking, the average guest was spending $300 a day. In the winter, with room rates at rock bottom and rooms filled with snowmobilers who were out on trails all day, the average take was less than $100. A $200 difference in income.
After using direct mail and print ads for the first couple of winter seasons, we decided that the winter market was best left to email and the website, and that all the print and direct mail money would be redirected to increasing the summer business where margins were massively higher. It was hard for the client to accept, but to their credit they went with the new strategy and it paid off. (Of course, summer visitors become prospects for the winter season as well.) Another resort was losing money in the winter, so we told them to shut it down for two months in the winter. Again, a difficult decision for the owner but one that realized $300,000 to the bottom line with very little effort.
Don’t spend time, money, and resources in relatively unimportant parts of your business.
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