Planning 2017

At the end of every year, I take time to analyze or reorganize my business so that I can improve efficiency, offer better client services and improve profitability. Notice I did not say the words "Increase sales". Why not? First, I'm a business coach that focuses on creating great processes, leading and coaching people to become winners and offering awesome customer experiences.

I believe if you have great processes and make sure you have really good people, who understand the processes. the sales will happen. But if you focus on sales, and sales only, you can potentially double your revenue and because your company is inefficient, you will have to continue increasing your prices to compensate for inefficiencies. Believe me, I have seen this situation on more than one occasion. I've seen companies drive themselves out of business, simply because they only focused on gross sales and did not run their business effectively.

So, let's break things down to seven specific questions to ask yourself:

1. How Could I Increase Customer Exposure and Revenue per Customer?

What changes can can be made in the coming year that will help increase my client base in the next twelve months? Customer service training for employees? Or maybe a new advertising campaign that actually works? Keep in mind about 70% of your clients are repeat customers. What can you do to get them to spend a bit more per transaction or use your product or service more often? Or just increase the services or products you offer and make sure you communicate them effectively at every opportunity.

2. Should I Dump Non-Profitable Services and/or Products

How may things are you involved with that generate virtually no profit, yet use up resources? Focus on products and services that provide a high return on your investment. If it hasn't paid off yet, it probably never will. Maybe it is time to just write off your losses and focus on what you do extremely well.

3. Look for New Profitable Services and Products

Is there anything that you should be offering that perhaps will gain you an edge? Maybe you should take a second look at what you were considering when you went to the last trade show or conference. Perhaps adding a service to your menu may bring in more clients that you couldn't get otherwise. Or perhaps there is an add-on service or product that you could offer in your market that none of your competitors are offering.

4. Evaluate Your Relationships at Work

Every team member needs to hear from a manager as to how they are doing and what is expected from them this next year. Be honest and give real ongoing feedback and don't forget to reward good behavior! This is also a good time to look over your business relationships. For example; partners, vendors and suppliers. Are you really benefiting from this relationship or not? Maybe re-evaluating relationship and taking the time to look at what else is available could save you some money and possibly get you better service.

5. Evaluate Your Systems and Processes

This is a big one! No better time than right now to figure out what you are doing well and not so well, and how you can improve it. Get your team involved in this. You may also be missing some incredible efficiency improvement methods by not considering a technology change. There are so many systems available out there that make running businesses easier, that you would be an idiot to not check them out. Also, if you are still hand writing documents instead of using a tablet or computer, please take the time to contact me and I'll recommend a few software providers that will take you out of the stone age with a very limited investment that will pay for itself in a few months.

6. Find New Ways to "WOW" Your Customers

Customers make buying decisions primarily based on emotions. Building relationships, creating awesome experiences and doing things none of your competitors will do is what makes you the best at your game. Constantly be on the lookout on what can be done to enhance what you offer your clients. Try calling and asking them, it really does make a difference. You may even consider calling clients who no longer do business with you and ask them why not.

7. Help Your Employees Manage Their Careers and Lives

The best employees work for the best companies and the best companies have the best employees. Getting employees involved in the success and growth of the company is essential, at the same time it is so very important to help employees in their career and growth by offering training and career advice. I visited one company that had a financial consultant from a local bank come in every few weeks to help employees manage their personal finances. The representative from the bank did it free while trying to solicit new clients, who of course were the employees. The company even invited spouses in to participate. If you have younger employees who are starting a family, odds are, they are struggling or confused with their finances. Those who required additional help would meet with the bank representative privately. Contact the bank you use and see if they offer these services.

Make it a point to regularly take the time to look over your business. Re-engineer how things are done, listen to your team and take recommendations seriously, call some clients and ask what you can do better. Remember, there is always room for improvement.

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