No matter where a company is at in their growth cycle, every business has room for improvement. It is important to highlight successes and high-five each other on big and small wins. It’s just as important to look at what needs to be improved on throughout the organization. Growth is based on improvement, and this improvement can happen in any part of the organization.
Below are a few of the areas where I commonly find room for improvement in many of the companies I work with. Just because things may need to change does not mean they are being done incorrectly the first time. It simply means that there may be a different way to do them.
Is your customer service perfect? Probably not. It’s likely really good, or even great, but there is usually some room for improvement when it comes to customer service. I’m referring to the level of customer service as perceived by your customers. Sure, having short hold times is important, and so is short call times, but so is the way customers are actually treated. I’ve called into businesses where I just wanted to reach through the phone and strangle the customer service rep I was talking to (Walmart.com is the most recent of these experiences for me). A couple rules of thumb (coming from a customer):
- Do NOT be a smartass to your customer (extremely bad for business)
- When a customer asks for a supervisor graciously send them to a supervisor – even if the supervisor will tell them the same thing, still send them to a supervisor
- If you can’t do anything for your customer, pretend like you want to and blame it on the policies – don’t ever tell your customer that they should know your policies!
Do you have the best product category lineup for your target customers? Have there been a few products that your customers have asked for recently that you don’t carry? If there have been, you’ve had to send them to someone else’s business to get that item. If you’re customers are asking for a specific item enough, it may be worth it for you to provide that product for them. Expanding your business by adding products to your existing lineup is growth. Just make sure that it’s the right products at the right price.
Are your prices in line with the prices of your competition and are you in-line with industry standards? If your prices are a little higher, what is the reason? Are the products you offer better in some way than your competitions? Are you showing these reasons to your customers? Is there a way you can lower your prices or offer a special to your customers? Customers like lower prices, but they also like quality (in most products). Get a feel from your customers why they aren’t purchasing when they come in or shop your business online. If it is about the pricing you may want to look into how you can become better in this area.
Marketing is an area where I see a lot of room for improvement in most companies I work with. This is usually because they want to spend the money in other areas. A good rule of thumb is to spend 20% of your business profits on your marketing budget with a minimum of $2,000 spend per month. This sounds like a lot, but there is a lot you can do with a couple grand these days! The bigger your brand becomes, the more you should be spending on marketing. If you’re not involved in social media (heavily) as a business owner, then you are doing a disservice to your business. This is a completely free way to market your company and brand!
Logistics / Operations
This is another area that I usually find room for improvement with most companies I work with because it’s difficult to nail down moving parts in a growing company. That’s okay, though. Just keep working at it. Continue contacting new shipping companies to find the best rates for the best service, find new ways to do things that allows your company to maintain a competitive edge while being flexible and focused, and empower employees to find new processes and procedures to help the company run smoother and better.
No matter the area that you find can be improved upon, continue improving so you can continue growing the business. And be sure to celebrate even the smallest wins along the way!