Chances are pretty good that by the time you are reading this blog, one or more of your New Year’s resolutions has already been cast aside. While I certainly wouldn’t want to distract from your commitments to regular gym visits, drinking or eating less, or calling your family members more often, I do have a few thoughts about professional resolutions that you might want to consider adding to your list and adhering to in 2016 (and beyond):
· Invest in understanding your customer better. How much is a loyal existing customer worth to you? Whether by virtue of reorders, renewals, upgrades, add-ons, or simply word of mouth/referrals, the value in cultivating and maintaining a happy customer is not to be overlooked nor underestimated. Yet, it is all too easy to do just that, taking these customers for granted and chasing new customers at their expense. While it is important to grow your customer base, it almost invariably costs more—directly and indirectly—to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer. And since our existing customers have already demonstrated an affinity for our product by purchasing in the past, it is also all too easy to impute assumptions about the strength of their future loyalty. How much would it be worth to your business to truly understand and maintain even a small handful of vocal customers? In virtually every instance, a few thousand dollars invested in a deep dive to cultivate long term loyalty with key customer segments today will pay for itself many, many times over in the short and long term.
· Schedule “thinking time.” It is an understandable and highly common pattern that even the highest achievers fall prey to every day. We get so focused on accomplishing a myriad of tasks, and we do so successfully. Our tunnel vision of the to-do list can leave us seeing only trees and not the forest. Whether you use the time to read a newspaper, trade journal, or a chapter or two of a book that has caught your attention; brainstorming about new ideas for your business; envisioning alternative ways of accomplishing objectives; etc., schedule some blocks of time each week where you will put aside the immediate tasks and allow yourself to be open to broader perspectives and the big picture.
· Critically assess what you are doing and why. Path-dependency or inertia can be all-powerful. Once we set out on a course, it can be difficult to change direction. This is particularly so if we have experienced success along that course. Why fix what isn’t broken, right? Well, the problem is that we might not realize something is broken until it is too late. Is your organizational structure and team still the optimal fit for the business environment you face today and likely will encounter tomorrow, or is it a relic of earlier days? Is your sales and marketing team set up to sell your current offering, or were they the right team for earlier iterations and products or services? Are you investing back into the parts of your business that have the most potential for growth, or are you investing based upon current or past performance that is unlikely to continue? These are just some of the questions you need to address periodically to ensure today’s success carries into the future.
We would love to hear some of your resolutions, and if we can help you keep any of them or work with you on any of these suggestions for your business, contact us anytime.