Growing a business

I attended a local and exclusive networking event last week for SME Business Owners, Advisors and Entreprenuers called the K-club (http://www.k-club.co.uk)

There was an excellent talk by Sarah Goulbourne from Gunnercook LLP who spoke passionately about the ‘Sea Change in Law’.

With regard to my own work as a business consultant helping SME business owners in pretty much any sector to plan and grow for the future, Sarah’s talk about how to grow a modern law firm was real music to my ears.

Sarah’s business Gunnercook is trying to demystify the client legal experience and I suspect the way law firms grow and market. Sarah simply believes that a modern law firm needs to put in place marketing and sales systems like most entrepreneurial businesses. I believe Law firms in America are even starting to offer basic services over the internet (see LawPivot!).

nuOrder believe that any businesses can put in place a tested sales and marketing system and get fantastic scalable results that can be measured for success.

I you need help doing such as thing drop us a line at nuOrder and we can help you today.

Exclusivity

Offering exclusivity to your customers can be a great selling point and can encourage them to purchase now rather than later.

If you are able to offer your customers something that is highly valuable or rare then your customers will think that they are special and mean something to your business.

 Exclusive products and services

You may decide to include exclusive lines in your business that only you carry. These could be products or and/or services depending on your business type and what is currently in demand by your customer base.

If you hold exclusive lines of products and services your customer won’t be able to shop around for them elsewhere and hence will be obligated to return to your business if they feel it is worthwhile.

It is important to remember that it is only viable to have an exclusive line if it is profitable for the business and your customers are going to make full use of it.

 Scarcity and limits

If you regularly stock items that are rare or are difficult to come across, sharing this to your customers may help you get a sale.

If you provide limitations and rare opportunities to your customers then they are more likely to be motivated and act quickly to purchase what you have to offer. It is important that use this sales technique only when it is necessary as you don’t want your customers to be upset because they found the product at several other shops.

Clothes designers often use the scarcity or limitation technique and promote that their summer or winter lines are almost sold out and are unavailable anywhere else. This helps them to move the old stock for their new line and gain their customers attention.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Go On; Spoil Your Customers

We are often asked by clients “How can I improve my marketing?” – Often this means – “How can I get new customers?” Indeed, most businesses put most of their marketing effort – and budget – into new lead generation.

However, it’s amazing how few businesses are effectively marketing to their existing customers. Most business owners are sitting on massive untapped potential in terms of their existing client relationships.How do you unleash that potential? Try answering these questions:

  • What cross-sales, up-sales, new products/services could you offer your existing customers?
  • And when did you last let them know? In fact, when was the last time you wrote to your customers or emailed them or phoned them. And what kind of response rate did you get?

If you doubled the number of times you contacted them what would happen? One retail client used a brochure to market to his client base and generated hundreds of thousands of pounds in turnover each year from this method. The brochure was sent out once a year, in springtime. We asked him to try sending it again in autumn. Guess what happened!Play the easy game. Make sure you have a database with all your existing clients listed. And then……speak to them……pamper them……offer them special previews and promotions……ask them to tell their friends.

Remember It costs six times more to get new customers than it does to increase sales to existing customers and 64% of customers don’t purchase from your business a second time because of the perceived indifference with which they are treated.

If you want to reduce your marketing spend, or the cost of customer acquisition, reinvest your pounds into strategies that will retain your customers, so they keep buying from you. Investing in customer relationship strategies – the payback is stunning.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a business evaluation and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

How to Grow and Managing a Business for Profits: Seminar

Growing and Managing a Business for Profits – What business owners need to do to boost income and manage a business through tough times

http://nuorderbusinessgrowth.eventbrite.co.uk/

Event Details:

Duration: Tuesday 13th June, 9am to 12.30pm.
Location: Mere Court Hotel Conference Centre, Mere, Knutsford, Cheshire.

Full Fee: £35 including booking fees and VAT
Early Bird Fee: £25 including booking fees and VAT (Sold Out)
Finders Fee: Receive £5 for every person you recommend who then attends the seminar.

Normally £50 + VAT, this personal invite entitles you to attend this joint seminar at a discounted rate.

Seminar Details:

Do you want to recapture your enthusiasm for your business or for the business you work for?  Are you looking for ways to grow your business and instill a sense of pride in your workforce that will result in increased profitability?

Then this is a seminar not to be missed.  Delivered by two experts in their field, Roger Brown and Lisa Gibson, the 3 ½ hour seminar programme will provide you with simple yet highly effective techniques to achieve your business aspirations.

You will come away with top tips on Social Business and the use of CRM and well as understanding the power of having the right person in the right job within any organization.

This seminar programme will benefit anyone who:

  • owns a business and wants help to grow or manage the business more effectively
  • wants tips and advice on managing and inspiring a team
  • want to increase leads and grow a client base

How do I book a place?

  1. Purchase your tickets. http://nuorderbusinessgrowth.eventbrite.co.uk/
  2. Once your booking has been received and assessed, you will be sent a booking confirmation, which will include the location, directions, and the terms and conditions.

About your speakers:

For information on Roger Brown and his testimonials visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerbrownnuorder

For information on Lisa Gibson and her testimonuals visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisagibsontriple3

Improve Your Cashflow

In previous newsletters, we have talked about keeping track of jobs in your business, how to improve your cashflow and the importance of managing client expectations. Implementing these suggestions in your business should result in:

  • Clients who understand what you do, when you will deliver it and how much it will cost
  • Jobs that are carefully monitored from start to finish and
  • Prompt and regular invoices being sent to clients

But what do you do if a client still doesn’t pay your invoice? As you transform business you will naturally start to develop systems to monitor your key performance indicators. These monitoring systems will allow you to take snapshots of the performance of your business and help you with your planning and preventative maintenance. One system of monitoring will be checking on financial performance and will include regular review of your outstanding debtors. Unfortunately it is a fact of life that no matter how efficient or competent we are, we will have clients that are slow to pay us, or may not pay us at all. Clients will not pay an invoice for three main reasons:

  • The time effect
  • The cash impact
  • Conscious or subconscious avoidance

The time effect: The Time Effect refers to a delay between the job and your invoice. You can deal with the Time Effect by ensuring invoices are sent out when a job is completed or at the end of each month. Avoid sending out annual invoices because the lapse of time between the job being finished and the invoice arising diminishes the value of the job to the client.

The cash impact: The Cash Impact refers to how the invoice affects the client’s hip pocket. The Cash Impact is felt when the invoice is much higher than the client expected. The Cash Impact can be dealt with by ensuring their expectations are clear at the beginning of the job. On occasion, the client may simply be experiencing a cash squeeze. Time to pay may be appropriate but will depend on your collection policy.

Conscious or subconscious avoidance: Unfortunately, we can sometimes get clients who have no intention of paying. Usually these clients can be identified and rejected at the first meeting. Having a good engagement letter setting out your payment terms will help minimise bad debts but it will only be effective if you remain firm and follow your procedure. That means handing delinquent accounts to a debt collector for further action, including court orders for payment. Occasionally a client will just be forgetful and not remember to pay your invoice. Have a simple debtor management procedure, and regularly remind clients of overdue invoices. If you follow up outstanding invoices regularly, you will avoid the Time Effect and reduce the risk of bad and doubtful debts. It is important to remember that the job isn’t finished when you get the job lodged or back to the client – the job really only finishes when the invoice is paid! Ensure all your team is aware of the importance of following up outstanding invoices promptly.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a business evaluation and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Track, Conversion & Measure

To really know the success of your business you should track its health. To do this you need three sets of information. This could be done for a website or for face to face sales. You will need:

  • Your sales figures
  • Your subscriber and customer statistics (from your website or sales forms)
  • Usage details from your website or records

The most important statistics that you should track and measure are your conversion rates. A conversion rate will measure how successfully you are achieving your goals, such as converting potential customers into buyers or converting first-time buyers into repeat customers. There ill more than likely be several conversion rates that you need to focus on however the below formulas will get you started.

1. How many visitors are you converting into customers? Your potential customer to buyer conversion rate is one of the easiest stats to calculate. This is also one of the most powerful for your business. This formula will give you an indication of how effectively you are winning over your potential customers to buy from you.

Calculation : Divide your total number of sales by the number of visitors to your business or website then multiply by 100. For example, if you have 4,000 visitors a month (to your business or website) and 280 of them purchase from you making them a customer, then your conversion rate is 7%.

2. How Many Visitors Are Signing To Be A Subscriber? This may mean that your potential customer/visitor has signed up to be on your database to receive your monthly newsletter or business promotional offers via your website or direct mail. This is the visitor-to-subscriber conversion rate which will tell you how appealing your subscription offer is. You should keep an eye on this figure as you test and trial different promotions or written copy for your sign-up form or sign-up procedure.

Calculation: Divide the total number of subscribers you have by the total number of visitors to your business or site then multiply by 100. For example, if you get 1,500 new visitors to your site in a week and 700 of them subscribe to your free newsletter, then your conversion rate is 46%.

3. How Many Of Your Subscribers Are Becoming Customers? Your subscriber-to-customer conversion rate is a positive test of how effective your newsletter or other piece of sales material is.

Calculation : Divide the total number of people who purchased something from you by the total number of subscribers to your newsletter then multiply by 100. For example, 105 of your 700 subscribers buy something from you, then your subscriber to customer conversion rate is 15%.

4. How Much Revenue Are You Making From Each Visitor? This statistic will show you how much you are earning from your average visitor to your business or website. This is a valuable statistic as the number will help you to determine how much you can spend to obtain a new visitor or potential customer while still earning a profit. This could be calculated over a month, quarter or a year, depending on how soon you want the figures.

Calculation : Divide the total amount of your sales by the total number of visitors to your business or website. For example, if you sold £12,000 worth of inventory this month and you had 35,000 visitors to your business or website, then your sales per visitor is about £0.34.

5. How many people are responding to what you want them to? This statistic is the response percentage of people who read your newsletter or direct mail piece either posted or on the website and go straight to the order form. In web terms this is the click through rate from your email newsletter to your order form. Same principle applies for posting of direct mail.

Calculation: Postage/Direct Mail Divide the total number of people who respond to Newsletter A by the total number of visitors to your business then multiply by 100. For example you have 4,000 potential customers and 420 respond to your mail via the order form, then your Newsletter has a response rate of 10.5%. Internet Divide the total number of clicks on link X by the total number of visitors to the page with link X then multiply by 100. For example, if you have 4,000 visitors to your emailed newsletter and 420 click on the link to your order form, then your newsletter has a click-through rate of 10.5%. All of these calculations are important for you to understand how your potential and existing customers are reacting to your business and sales promotions.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Dealing With Dissatisfied Customers

It is a fact of business that at some stage, you will encounter a dissatisfied client. Even the most systemised and efficient practice is not immune to the client who thinks you are not providing value for money. While introducing service standards and endeavouring to manage expectations will minimise the number of dissatisfied clients, it is important to ensure you have programs in place that allow you to take responsibility and resolve the issue to limit the potential cost to your business.

In this article we look at ways to identify dissatisfied clients and provide tips on how to effectively deal with their issues. Dissatisfied clients cost your business money. Not only does it immediately affect your bottom line, but dissatisfied clients can cost you potential new clients. Some researchers suggest that each dissatisfied client is likely to tell 8 – 10+ people about their experience and the more dissatisfied clients you have, the more people are going to have a negative impression about your business.

Dissatisfaction arises for a number of reasons but it is generally because a client does not perceive value in your service. “Value” is calculated simply as: Value = Quality / Cost. In other words, a client perceives value when the quality of the service is greater than the cost. Introducing client satisfaction surveys will help in identifying dissatisfied clients and give you a strong indication of areas of improvement in your business. While this will capture the vocal clients, how do you identify those dissatisfied clients who don’t bother to complete the survey or just “vote with their feet” and don’t come back? A simple way to spot dissatisfied clients is to pay attention to the signals you are given such as heavy sighing, avoiding phone calls and letters or making sarcastic comments. Clients who are reluctant to interact with you and your team members are often unhappy with service but are reluctant to say anything directly.

Unfortunately, while these clients are reluctant to say anything to you, they are not so shy in saying it to their friends and family who will also happily pass on negative press. To stop this negative publicity, it becomes even more important to clearly focus on managing client expectations at the start of each job. A complaint resolution process will deal with issues after a complaint is made, but you and your team can deal with issues of dissatisfaction before they get to that point. Your prompt action will ensure you recover the situation and will, in many cases, turn this dissatisfied client into a loyal one who will actively refer you new business. We use a simple process to deal with issues of dissatisfaction before they become complaints:

  • Deal with the issue as soon as you spot the clue
  • In a non confrontational way, ask the client if there is an issue e.g. “You seem a bit hesitant, what concerns do you have?”
  • Then take a L.E.A.P!
  • Listen to their concerns
  • Empathise with their issues in a non condescending manner
  • Acknowledge their concerns (and if appropriate, apologise)
  • Provide a solution to address their concern

Encouraging your staff to manage expectations and address dissatisfaction before it turns into a complaint will ensure you have happy clients who actively promote your business. Remember that a client who complains is a great reminder of ways you can improve.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Are You Ready To Sell More?

Often at our seminars and events we survey business owners to discover the challenges they face within their own businesses and one topic often comes through loud and clear; ‘I need to sell more’. But whilst I agree that growing sales is an essential component of business growth it is often not the real solution to their problems.

Before you embark on a sales campaign first examine the following questions:

  • How do you intend to cope with increase in demand?
  • What will be the impact of a successful campaign on cash flow?
  • Can the business sustain any growth long term?
  • How does this campaign fit with the long terms goals of the business owner?
  • Are the sales processes effective?
  • Are the staff sufficiently trained?
  • Is the marketing plan robust and will it generate the levels of inquiries necessary?
  • What are your motivations for growth?

Let’s start with the last point first; why do you want to sell more? Far too often the motivation in the first place is wrong, and many owners see selling more as the solution to long hours, poor cash flow and low staff morale and productivity, often with disastrous results.

Recently I worked with a business owner who had spent the last 4 years chasing bigger sales with good success. Sadly as the business grew so did his headaches; cash flow just got tighter, already creaking systems began to implode, the demands on his time became greater whilst profits remained static. The harder he seemed to work, the harder it all seemed to get; worse, his home life was rapidly heading for trouble, his relationships with loved ones being eroded by his long hours and short temper. His dream of owning a £1,000,000 + business was rapidly becoming a nightmare.

I can’t begin to imagine how he felt, he was successful! He had set a goal for growth, gathered his team around him and cajoled, motivated and trained them to the best of his ability and it had worked! He had hit every sales target he had set and yet somehow his only reward was a bigger overdraft (and pressure from the bank) and a larger mountain of work, hassle and issues to deal with. It must have been a devastating moment when he realised he was the author of his own undoing. Sadly this is an all too common tale.

So where did he go wrong? The truth is that it costs money to grow and businesses are limited by the rate at which they can grow safely and securely. Furthermore if the motivation for selling more is to relieve a cash flow problem or to create enough space to employ more staff to reduce hours (meaning you are already over capacity) then more than likely you are setting yourself, and your business up for a very bad fall. Our poor business owner had simply magnified the problem by not dealing with the core issues which created the lack of cash and profit (not to mention time) In the first place.

When we work with business owners we check a number of key factors within the business before we will allow them to go out selling and I suggest you do the same.

  • Firstly and most importantly, look at the end game; where do you want to be in 2, 3 and five years time? Selling more just to solve a problem is not healthy as we have already discussed.
  • Secondly check and get control of the finances of the business; how much stock do you hold, how long do clients take to pay, how quickly do suppliers expect payment, are you pricing correctly and can overheads be reduced? These parts are crucial as they have a major impact on profitability and cash flow and EVERY business owner should know these metrics for their business off by heart.
  • Next take a look at the people who will help you achieve your goals, these can be split into three major groups:
  1. Customers: Do you truly understand your target market, do they want what you have to sell and why do they buy from you?
  2. Staff: Do they work late without asking for extra pay? Are they part of the team and working with you to achieve the businesses goals or are they leaving you alone at the end of the day to finish off? If the team is not motivated and behind you, growth will be a very rocky journey!
  3. Suppliers: As you grow so will the amount of trade you do with suppliers. Are they willing to give you the credit you need and can they meet the increase in demand? What impact will this have on their selling price to you?
  • Now take a look at your systems and processes. Do you have a manpower plan for when the business grows, and how will staff be recruited and integrated quickly into the team. How will you cope with expected demand?
  • Lastly Conduct a SWOT of your business (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) to determine if you have covered everything and put a plan in place to address these issues before you go on a selling spree.

Now I know this seems a lot to do and it is and maybe this is the reason so many businesses don’t do it. Indeed I have heard all sorts of excuses in my time from “it is unnecessary“(a foolish notion) to “I’ll do it after this next big sale which is going to make everything all right” (It won’t).The truth is often they don’t know how to do it or they are trying to take a short cut, sadly you can’t, and in general those businesses that try, fail.

It’s an old and tried mantra but businesses that fail to plan are planning to fail, and it’s truth is something that irks us business advisers no end! We watch time and time again as people struggle without asking for help. I have never tried to build my own house, make my own car or grow my own food; I am simply not qualified. Yet the average business owner tries to grow his or her own business on the same basis, and wonders why he/she fails losing their dreams, homes, self respect and relationships along the way.

So go on, get your business ready to sell more; give us a call and ask for a health check and I promise to leave the tools in the garage……

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a business evaluation and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.