Forget tough—today, competition is fierce! Even if your business is soaring, you know full well that you can never take it for granted. The moment you do, your competitors have the advantage.
Business has its peaks and valleys. To achieve success, you must continually develop new ideas and strategies to create consistent business growth. These strategies will give you the power to win new customers, obtain greater levels of customer retention, improve your productivity and show results where it counts most—in your bottom line.
Maximize Your Driving Power
To maximize your driving power, recognize that the world is changing more rapidly than ever before and with it, so are your customers. You’ve heard this all-too-familiar mantra before, but it warrants reinforcement: “The customer rules!” They are more demanding than ever, as they are likely under a great deal of pressure. What worked to obtain (and retain) their business in the past does not necessarily work today.
What you need to do is create an accurate road map which will show the best route. Detach yourself from the day-to-day business and look at your business or department objectively—as if you were an outside consultant. Determine what you are doing exceptionally well and where you need improvement.
Enlist the Help of What Should Be Your Greatest Asset
The next step is to tap into what should be one of the greatest assets for your business—the combined brainpower of your entire team. They hold the answers to your questions, the solutions to your problems, the ideas to rev up your business’ growth and the methods to keep you from falling short of your goals.
Without the help and input of your entire team, you can’t move forward. That is, of course, assuming you are surrounded with people who are dedicated to you and your company.
Drive to Win
Imagine for a moment that you’re a professional racecar driver (Yes, there are women who compete!). To win the race, you need a state-of-the art racecar and experience at the wheel. By taking risks, you can slant the odds of winning in your favor. But without a highly efficient and cohesive pit crew, you will not consistently win races.
Slow Down in Order to Speed Up
Before you rev up, you must slow down and work with your people to create your strategy. Get together with your race team. Involve everyone. Don’t exclude that new hire; he or she may have valuable ideas but is hesitant to come forward with them.
Ideally, you should take the team into an environment in which there are no distractions. Before you begin, establish these seven ground rules:
- We will leave our titles at the door.
- We will do our best to be completely open and honest.
- We will show respect for each other’s opinions.
- We will all participate and not sit silent.
- We will understand each other’s pressures and concerns.
- We will strive to see things through others’ eyes.
- We will recognize that the ideas we share and decisions we help to make will benefit us all.
Direct everyone to make an assessment of your business—and as uncomfortable as it may be, ask them to hold nothing back. You have to answer all of the questions on the Custom-Built Road Map that follows.
Keep in mind that the truth is the starting point. You and your people will get results if you use the same approach as an outside consultant. Detach yourself emotionally and look at your business objectively. Ask them to view it through the eyes of an outsider. Take a census of opinions and draw conclusions.
Once this brainstorming is done, you’ll be in a better position to see things more clearly, make decisions and create your own race strategy. This process is hard work. Keep in mind that your biggest challenge will be to implement necessary changes and sustain momentum. Expect the road to get a little bumpy in places while you customize your specific road map.
Keys to a Custom Built Road Map
- What are we exceptionally well at doing?
- What is our reputation? How are we viewed in the eyes of our customers, the community and the industry?
- What are our customers saying about us?
- What do we do differently from or better than our competitors?
- Do our customers know this? How well do we communicate this in our advertising, marketing and sales pitches?
- Where are there opportunities to obtain more referrals or steer more business our way?
- What can we do to sway competitors’ customers toward us?
- Do we operate consistently like a well-oiled machine? Can we depend on each other so we can focus on the most important person to our business—the customer?
- Do we consistently strive to improve productivity and solve problems?
- How is our overall morale?
- Are we getting enough referrals from our existing customers?
- How can we take what we are doing correctly and build on it?
- What does management need to do to help our company move forward?
- Are we consistently working to improve our service?
- If what we offer is no different from what our competition is offering, are we better in the level of service we provide?
- How much effort do we put into soliciting feedback from customers in order to discover what they want and need from us?
- How quickly do we respond to problems?
- Is it easy to do business with us?
- Does everyone in our company know they are expected to regularly contribute ideas to improve customer service?
- Are we listening to the voice of our customers?
- What can we do to develop stronger relationships with our customers?
- What have we done to exceed expectations, and what practices can we put into practice to exceed expectations in the future?
- Do we all pull together when we have a problem and help each other deliver excellent service?
- Do we make an effort to be better than our competition in every aspect of the customer experience?
After this session, take a good, hard look at the answers to the questions. Then, create an action plan. Does this seem overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. Determine what three things you need to implement in the next month and go!
Remember that even though competition is fierce, you must still ENJOY THE RIDE! TPW