50 Ways to Grow a Business – Part 2
Welcome back to our ’50 Ways to Grow a Business’ series. If you missed Part 1, which discussed USPs, SWOT analysis and more, take a look for more tips.
Let’s dive straight back in to the series, with our next set of business fundamentals. If you want to explore any of the following sections further, you can book a free, no obligation consultation with our team.
7) Systemise everything
Theodore W. Garrison (1998) notes in his article “The Magic of a Marketing System”:
“Have you wondered how Ray Kroc managed to get teenagers in California, Illinois, Florida, and Maine to produce the exact same fry? It is really quite simple; McDonald’s starts with the same kind of potato. Each potato is cut into fries of the same size. At all locations, the fries are cooked in the same type of oil in the same type of fryer at the same temperature for exactly the same amount of time. Is there any surprise that all the fries come out the same?”
Just about everything that happens in a business is repetitive. That means that it probably doesn’t have to be done by you! Here is a two-step approach:
- Take a hard look at what you and your colleagues do each day and write down how it’s done
- Start delegating tasks to other people, by having them first observe how you do it and then doing it themselves with appropriate oversight
Systemisation is the key concept of ‘The E-myth Revisited’ by Michael Gerber (1995), one of the great guidebooks for entrepreneurs.
8) Apply the latest technology
Technology is a major driver of business profits. Here is a list of innovations you may want to implement in your business:
- Document management systems (going paperless)
- Electronic workflow
- Multiple monitors
- “Cloud” computing
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
There are significant benefits to going paperless:
- Increase in productivity
- Elimination of storage space
- Reduction in expenses
- Ability to work remotely
- Better customer service
- Protection of documents
- Happier team members
There are also significant benefits to being in the “Cloud”:
- Investment – Cloud computing shifts a large portion of your IT costs from a capital outlay to a regular operating expense
- Expense – Reduced IT expense as there’s no need for expensive servers, hardware or IT departments
- Access – Access your data from anywhere in the world with an internet connection
- Scalability – Add users/programs/applications on an as-needed basis, allowing you to adjust your system for seasonal peaks and troughs
- Speed – Applications are infinitely quicker due to the capacity of the host’s larger operating systems
- Security – Data is backed up (in real time) and stored in multiple secure locations. The threat of having your servers stolen, subject to natural catastrophe such as fire or flood, or being otherwise compromised goes away
More and more businesses are outsourcing various functions to focus on their main areas of expertise.
Ask yourself what:
- are we doing that is not one of our core proficiencies?
- do we do that we don’t do well?
- could we potentially outsource?
As an example, many companies have outsourced their entire accounting function to their accounting firm, achieving significant savings in the process.
10) Survey your customers
Undertaking a survey of your customers should go beyond the issue of customer satisfaction. You want to enhance your understanding of your customers’ needs and wants, recognise your weaknesses and identify new opportunities to expand your business. Some customers may be reluctant to give you their real, unbiased opinions if you conduct your own survey, so consider using a neutral party to conduct the survey for you.
Decide exactly what you want to find out before you launch the study and pre-test your questions, as there are always some that are misunderstood or misinterpreted. You can also expect to receive responses or comments that you had not anticipated. Keep your survey brief and focused. To increase your response rate, think about rewarding respondents with a discount voucher (that can be used immediately) or a free gift.
There are many ways to conduct your survey, including:
1. By post (be sure to include a postage paid reply envelope)
2. Over the web
3. By telephone
4. In person
Here’s a sample covering letter:
|Dear Customer We are here to provide high quality products and services to all of our customers. To help us achieve this, we would greatly appreciate your opinion of our performance. Please take a few minutes to complete the enclosed survey. Responses will help us identify the areas in which we are doing well, as well as those which we need to improve. Please return your completed survey in the enclosed self-addressed stamped envelope. Thank you in advance for your assistance. Please call me if you have any questions. Yours sincerely, Jane|
If you are planning a telephone survey, hire someone to do this that has business experience, as much of the benefit comes from the answers to follow-on questions.
To achieve a high response rate, send the actual survey document in advance with a covering letter asking for the recipient’s assistance. Here’s an example:
|Dear Customer HOW ARE WE DOING? We’re anxious to find out! We have selected some of our favourite customers to participate in a survey. We would really appreciate it if you could talk to John Smith when he calls. He is conducting the survey for us and will be calling you within the next ten days. The survey should take no more than 8 – 10 minutes to complete. Thank you in advance for your assistance. Yours sincerely P.S. I’ve attached a copy of the survey document John will be using.|
Here are 4 sample survey documents, from simple to complex:
Satisfaction Survey – Sample A
On a scale of 1 – 10, how willing would you be to recommend us to your friends, family and business associates? (10 = very willing,
1 = not willing)
Satisfaction Survey – Sample B
What do you like about our service?
How could we improve?
How can we improve our service?
If you’re doing a survey over the internet, there are a number of popular systems available. An online survey will be your least expensive option and will allow you to survey your customers more frequently (a good idea!).
Once your survey has been completed, it is important to do something with the information, as a survey creates expectations among your respondents.
Satisfaction Survey – Sample C
Listed below are the services and products we provide. For each one, please tick the appropriate box 1 to 4.
|Service or Product||We currently purchase this from you||We purchase this from another vendor||We do not use or need this||We do not currently use this but may need it|
As a minimum, thank all participants with a letter such as:
Thank you for participating in our recent customer survey. We received an overwhelming response with lots of helpful comments and many, many excellent suggestions.
We will be working hard over the coming months to implement as many of these suggestions as we can.
Talk to Cardens
We combine accounting with complementary business advisory services so our clients are supported from day one. Talk to our team on 01273 739592 or request a free, no-obligation consultation.