Growth Tips

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Here we are, right in the middle of the cleaning season. What changes are you implementing in order to make this your best year ever?

Growth only happens if you improve the way you run business. Are you still doing the same things you did last year? If so, expect the same results.

If you are ready for something bigger, my top seven business growth tips can help you achieve the success you want.

Tip 1:  The need for speed

Growth does not have to take a long time. The speed of growth depends on how quickly you plan and implement improvements.

Startup companies must operate with a dire sense of urgency. Until a new company reaches the breakeven point — paying the monthly expenses for both the business and owner — it is losing money. Time is a deadly opponent. Companies fail when they are unable to reach the breakeven point before running out of money.

A step-by-step plan can be your salvation. Precious time is lost when owners do not know specifically what needs to be done next. Owners who think they can make it up as they go are in for a challenging time. It is vital to set aside time to strategize and plan.

Tip 2: Focus on customer sources

Business owners often focus on their need for more customers. Of course customers are needed for success, but a company has very little control over which consumers actually end up using a company.

It is far more productive to focus on the sources from which those customers come.

“Customer sources” refers to ways that consumers hear about your company. A source can be a Google search, Yelp, Yellow Pages, repeat customer, or a referral from a friend or realtor.

The number and quality of sources you have is completely under your control. Get more of these sources and expand the return you are getting from ones you already have.

There are hundreds of potential sources available. Success comes from finding enough profitable ones.

Tip 3: The power of Yelp and Angie’s List

Companies located in communities where Yelp and Angie’s List are not yet dominant possess a huge opportunity. When social review sites become the major players there, as they have elsewhere, the companies that take advantage first are going to be big winners.

Social review sites create a winner-take-all environment. The companies that first acquire the most positive reviews will capture the vast majority of jobs. In turn, they will get more new reviews, which accelerate their growing dominance. A company can accomplish this much more easily when there is not yet much competition. Act now and reap the benefits for years.

Tip 4: Move beyond advertising

Advertising is a necessary tool for building a clientele quickly, but there is a high price to pay. Between the discounts normally faced in ads and the high cost of running the campaign, you will lose most of your initial revenue. Returning clients provide profit untouched by advertising costs. It is therefore critical to convert these new customers into ongoing clients and referral sources.

Advertising should only be used when you must see fast growth. In most cases, do not expect it to remain a major source for maintaining a company. Stay alert for the opportunity to decrease your dependence on it. Companies that do not focus on converting new customers into repeating customers will struggle to succeed.

Tip 5: Repeat and referrals increase with follow-up

Customers need help remembering how and when to contact you. Too often owners think they can skimp on the cost and effort required to maintain a good follow-up system. It is this system that enables you to reduce your dependence on advertising.

A good follow-up includes reminder cards, thank you cards, newsletters and holiday cards. Staying in touch in a non-sales way is what keeps your company fresh in customers’ minds.

The amount of money you can save from not offering discounts can often cover the expense of implementing this system. As an added bonus, referrals flow naturally from a follow-up system more than any other source.

Tip 6: Each part of the company is important

All parts of a company must function well in order to prosper. Just being a great cleaner or restorer makes up only part of the picture of success.

All equipment and tools need to be reliable and professional looking. In the office, customer calls and correspondence, along with banking and paying bills, need proper attention. These steps are necessary for operations to run smoothly.

The owner of a start-up must learn skills in many areas of business. Too many owners do not take the time to make sure that all the jobs are taken care of.  As a result the company suffers. When the company becomes profitable, many of these divisions of business eventually can be hired out.

Tip 7: Measure results

Finally: Test, measure and analyze. Businesses grow by making a lot of small improvements. When combined, these improvements create big profits.

Of course, it is critical to measure advertising in order to determine what is working. But this testing, measuring and analyzing should also be applied to every process and system in the company. Evaluate the value of service you provide, the efficiency of your scheduling, the efficacy of your labor, the scheduling of your maintenance and even how much time you spend driving.

Always be on the lookout for ways to improve the details of your company and, in turn, measure their success.

Make this year the best

Companies do not improve on their own — you must take action. Implementing these tips will help create a profitable business, and the rewards are worth the effort. It is time to take control and make it happen.

Steve Marsh is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor and a Senior Carpet Inspector. He helps home-service companies quickly establish profitable clienteles and then progress on to serve higher quality customers. To help companies achieve these goals he created the step-by-step programs Single Truck Success and Be Competition Free. For more information, visit www.professional-carpet-cleaning-service.com.

 

Cleanfax Staff

Cleanfax provides cleaning and restoration professionals with information designed to help them manage and grow their businesses.

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