I recently presented a workshop for 130 small business owners on the topic of "Controlling the Market." When I sat down to put the presentation together I tried to imagine what kind of advice I would give to a very close friend whose business was struggling and was trying to gain market share and increase profitability. What I came up with were four key areas I think are the most important things to focus on right now to control your market and thrive regardless of the economic environment.
Now, more than ever, you need to make sure your staff is engaged and motivated to deliver the highest quality products and service possible and build superb customer relationships. Multiple research studies clearly show that "actively disengaged" employees, the ones that are on "silent strike," can reduce your total revenues by as much as 22 percent. That's a quarter of your total revenues -- gone because of unhappy employees. On the other hand, highly engaged employees who enjoy their work and are proud of the company they work for, can increase total profits by as much is 189 percent. So what does it take to create an engaged workforce?
Here are what I believe are a few of the key drivers:
- Respect: treat people fairly and show them that you value them as an individual.
- Support: give them the training, tools and resources they need to do the job successfully.
- Freedom: give them the opportunity to do their job without micromanagement or restrictive red tape.
- Appreciation: genuinely show them that they, and the work they do, are important.
It has long been one of my main mantras: Whoever owns the “Voice Of the Customer” owns the marketplace. The goal must be to listen, listen, listen to your customers and then use that feedback to develop products and services that exactly meet their needs. As an example, many hotels spent millions of dollars on new marble entryways, big pool decks and high-end bistros in an effort to attract more business travelers… with terrible results.
Other hotel chains decided to actually ask their customers what was most important to them and instead invested in additional front desk staff for speedy check-in and checkout, extra comfortable beds, soundproof windows and super fast Internet connections -- with great results because that was exactly what the business travelers said they wanted. The foundation of marketing excellence is built on a deep understanding of your core customers.
The next step is to identify the key "Moments of Truth" in your business, the four or five fundamental elements that must be delivered flawlessly every single time.
For instance, in a dry cleaning business the moments of truth would be:
- Clothes MUST be clean and pressed correctly.
- Clothes ready when promised.
- Reasonable prices.
- Very friendly service.
So the question here is; what are the key moments of truth for your business and what systems and processes can you put in place to make sure that you nail them every single time for every single customer?
A study I just read indicated that as much as 43 percent of all purchasing decisions today are based on Word-Of-Mouth referrals. In another study of 3,000 companies, 54 percent of the organizations surveyed reported that more than 70 percent of their new customers came from referrals. It is indisputable that the absolute most powerful marketing weapon for your business is happy, satisfied and loyal customers that tell their family and friends about your awesome company and your fantastic products and services. Therefore, your number one marketing goal should be to turn your business into a referral engine by creating an army of raving fan customers that drive new business to your door.
So if you want to control your market it’s a pretty straightforward formula. Get your staff engaged and excited about delivering consistently superior customer service, own the Voice of the Customer, deliver flawlessly on your Moments of Truth and make it super easy for your customers to tell everyone about how amazing your business is. It is my sincere belief that if you focus intently on these four areas, you will see a dramatic positive impact on your business success.
John Spence has spent the last 17 years traveling worldwide to help business and people enjoy more success and happiness. John is the author of “Awesomely Simple – Essential Business Strategies for Turning Ideas Into Action” which won the Reader’s Choice Award at Small Business Trends as one of the Top 10 Small business Books of 2009.
Image credit: Ticky_