Is your business stuck?
Almost every business hits a plateau at some point. And while there are many different reasons why this happens, it almost always creates frustration for the business owner.
It doesn’t matter which industry you are in or at which revenue level you are stuck. It doesn’t matter how long you have been stuck either. The question is, “How do I get ‘unstuck’ and take my business to the next level?”
Here are seven action steps that you can take to move your business off the plateau and get it back on a growth trajectory.
1. Market to your current and past customers.
Your current and past customers are your first marketing priority
! Pay extra attention to the people who have already chosen to do business with you, because they are the ones who are most likely to do business with you in the future!
Did you know that you will have to pay six to eight times more money to attract a new customer than to keep an existing customer? It always makes sense to start your new growth initiative by appealing more to your existing customers. In other words, look for ways to increase customer engagement and customer loyalty
Once you have acquired a customer, the hardest part has already been accomplished. After that, your goal must be to make sure that you serve the customer well. Also, be on the lookout for ways you can serve them more in the days ahead.
Building customer engagement and customer loyalty is a three-part process. First, take the time to identify new needs that you can meet for both your current and past customers. Second, communicate with them. When you find additional ways to add value, let them know that you want to serve them in new ways! Finally, when given the opportunity, carry out your plan with excellence.
Make it your goal to increase the size of the average sale by adding more value. Also, make it your goal to increase the frequency of sales, again by adding more value.
You send a powerful message when you pay attention to the changing needs of your existing customers and then take the initiative to meet those needs. You are telling your customers that you continue to value them and their business. You are conveying your trustworthiness, attentiveness, and reliability. And in return, they will tell you that they want more and more of your services.
2. Create a “Wow!” experience for your customers and prospects.
How do you differentiate
your company from the competitors? You may be surprised to find that your success has less to do with your products or services and more to do with how you treat people!
The best companies in the world get this truth. As a result, they place a major emphasis on the customer experience
They understand that it is not enough to just satisfy their customers. Instead, they find ways to exceed their customers’ expectations. That extra effort is what creates the “Wow!” experience.
Numerous research projects have revealed common factors that contribute to the “Wow!” experience
. These factors include:
- Employee Engagement. In the best companies, employees engage and interact with prospects and customers in a manner that is polite, courteous, positive, and caring. They are good listeners. By being attentive, they understand what the customer needs, and they find ways to help that are particularly meaningful to the customer.
- Execution. The best companies identify and offer the best solutions to solve the needs of the customer. Then they provide that solution with quality, speed, and excellence.
- Problem Recovery. The best companies resolve and fairly compensate the customer for any problems. They have a clear, simple problem resolution process. Then the frontline staff take responsibility to solve the problem in a positive and efficient manner.
Your efforts to engage customers, execute solutions, and resolve problems will create an experience that is different for your customers. When you provide a “Wow!” experience, you are clearly distinguishing yourself from your competitors.
3. Raise your “Leadership Lid.”
Author and speaker John Maxwell talks about “The Law of the Lid.” In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Maxwell states, “Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential. The higher the leadership, the greater the effectiveness.”
If your business is “stuck,” your plateau is likely to be a reflection of your leadership ability
. You have probably reached your greatest level of current effectiveness as a leader. As Maxwell puts it, you’ve hit your leadership lid.
The good news is that you can raise your lid! As a matter of fact, you have already begun the process. You see, you must first recognize your limitations (or your lid). If you are exploring the reasons for your business plateau, you are already facing your current limitations. Once you have recognized your lid, you can then take the steps that are necessary to learn and grow as a leader
The best leaders have recognized their own limitations and have enlisted the help of others to sharpen their skills. Increasing leadership capacity is a common way in which business coaches help owners and managers.
4. Invest more time and energy in developing your referral sources.
Leads that are generated through referrals
are typically the best prospects a business can receive. They are also typically the least expensive. However, in my experience as a business coach, I have found that most business owners are typically not intentional about leveraging this incredible opportunity.
Why are referrals so valuable? Referrals matter because we all prefer to buy from people whom we know, like, and trust. You must first overcome the buyer’s skepticism in order to have a real opportunity to make a sale. You have to achieve a certain level of trust – and sometimes building that trust is difficult when you’re a stranger. A good referral allows you to begin the process with a certain level of trust that has already been established.
While referral marketing
typically has a low hard-dollar cost, an intentional strategy does take time and mental energy. This type of investment requires a commitment from you! You must recognize the value of this commitment.
Wise business owners will implement specific tools and tactics designed to generate an increasing number of warm, interested prospects through their satisfied customers and strategic partners. As a result, they will literally create a referral “system” that enhances and leverages word-of-mouth marketing.
5. Identify and correct “system” bottlenecks.
To improve your business and your revenue, it is first helpful to view your business as a large system
. This large system has many “sub-systems.”
The five core sub-systems of every business
are the same. They are marketing
, selling, fulfillment, back-office/admin, and HR/people management
. Any one of these systems may contain multiple bottlenecks that prevent your business from growing.
It is important to realize that your system is perfectly designed to get what you are getting! So if you want to get something different from it, you must change something in the system.
Begin with an intentional and objective assessment. Ask yourself, “Where could there be potential bottlenecks?” Enlist employees and/or an outsider to help you look objectively at your core systems.
Once you have identified problem areas, then ask, “How can I improve in each of these core areas so as to increase capacity?” Again, enlist others for ideas on improving the performance of each sub-system.
System bottlenecks often go unnoticed. When you intentionally and objectively assess your business system, you are equipping yourself to make a change toward growth.
Owners frequently underestimate the impact that one change can make on the entire system. One small change could result in a huge point of leverage.
In fact, it is not uncommon for one relatively small adjustment to open the gate for dramatic revenue growth!
6. Create a “Marketing Engine” to attract new customers.
This is the third time I have referenced a “marketing
” solution. The reason I keep coming back to this is because marketing has many facets. Marketing is often THE single system that holds back business growth.
Unfortunately, many business owners do not know where their next sale is coming from. They do not know what marketing tactics will keep them alive, much less what tactics will enable them to grow. They are experts at their products and services, but they do not know much about marketing.
As a business owner, you must develop the mindset that says, “I am in the marketing business
!” Though there are many different industries, every business owner is in the marketing business. You must become an expert at marketing and create what I call a “marketing engine” for your unique business.
A marketing engine is simply a set of strategies and tactics that consistently deliver a specified number of qualified leads. In other words, you know that if you execute tactic “A” each month, you will reliably produce “X” number of leads each month. All you have to do is start the engine and keep it running!
When you create a marketing engine, you maintain control of your business growth in two ways. First, you will know how to produce new customers
. Second, you will have the power to increase the number of customers by simply revving-up your marketing engine.
7. Train everyone who helps you in business.
This final step may go against your instincts. Are you like some business owners who are reluctant to invest time and money in training others
? Their hesitation is rooted in the fear that they will lose the people in whom they have invested.
If that’s what is stopping you from investing in the success of your people
, get over it! The fact is that you will eventually lose many of these people. However, in the meantime, the success of your business is tied to the success of the people around you.
Let me repeat: When the people around you improve, your business will improve!
, your contractors, your referral sources, your strategic partners, your vendors – everyone who helps you succeed in business needs to grow personally and professionally in order for your business to grow. Through training and educating those who help you, you will gain leverage and help yourself more in the long run.
Are you still hesitating? Then consider this: The worst case scenario is that you could invest time and money in training others who move on. As a result, your company could become known as a leadership development organization. Personally, I wouldn’t be too disappointed with that scenario.
Look at it this way: By sending out others who are well trained, you could potentially raise the standards of your entire industry. Your company would gain a good reputation and would have a broad impact on your industry. Of course, that scenario could mean that you would be challenged to personally grow even more! Again, if it were me, I wouldn’t be disappointed at all.
Accept the fact that when you build up the people around you, you build up yourself and your business. Set aside your fears and make the investment in your people. It is one of the marks of an extraordinary company.
You may not need all seven of these steps to take your business to the next level. You might discover that only one or two of these factors are holding you back. Just know this: You CAN take action that will get you off the plateau and move your business to the next level!
Where will you begin?
For more help, contact The Growth Coach® at www.TheGrowthCoachHouston.com, or call 281-841-6680. Our mission is to empower business owners, executives, and sales professionals to achieve exceptional performance in their businesses, and to live extraordinary lives!
Tags: Business Growth, Business Owner, Business Success, Marketing