Big Little Ideas

Do you know what you can do to improve your business? Have you ever sat down and asked yourself that very question? You should. Revenue growth will remain a problem for many businesses throughout 2011. Focus on efficiency. Keep your sales team trained and ready. Tighten expenses even more. But you may find that taking time to think about your business and coming up with simple ideas to implement may make the biggest difference in your performance. Here’s how some business owners are changing their companies.

Keep Customers Happy

A car dealership is holding a “Simply the Best” seminar for the entire organization. “The company is showing each department how it is responsible for improving customer experiences, service and satisfaction,” said Mark McKinley, principal, Lima office. “New customers are hard to come by these days, so this business is working to keep the ones it has.”

Take Customer Satisfaction Into Your Own Hands

When was the last time the CEO of one of your vendors called you? “I know a CEO who personally calls a few customers each week to ask how things are going. Since the customers typically deal with sales staff, they are thoroughly surprised to find the CEO on the other end of the phone,” said McKinley.

Explore Something New

Sometimes help is available if you just look. “I’m aware of a business that pursued a state developmental grant to help fund a study on potential markets for their product,” Todd Mizer, principal, New Philadelphia office said. “Accounts receivable is an issue for many businesses,” said Robert Mapes, principal, Wooster office. “One business owner was really bothered by the fact that one large client accounted for most of the A/R. By purchasing accounts receivable insurance, the company was able to insure $1.2 million in receivables for just $20,000 a year.” This made all the difference as the owner was less stressed and could focus attention on other areas.

Formalize Your Collection Process

Not only do you need a collection process, but you need to track all communications. “The key is to touch base with the customer often,” said Debi Gellenbeck, COO, Administration office, New Philadelphia. “We start our process at 70 days and make regular contact every 10 days for another 50 days until we receive a response. When we aren’t successful, the account is sent to collections. You should document every step in a spreadsheet, too.”

Know All Your Costs

A manufacturing company studied its product costs to better understand margins on a product-by-product basis. “This helped them properly set the price of each product. They also cut products that were not profitable so they could focus on the ones that were,” said Chad Bice, principal, Zanesville office. “Without knowing the ‘all in’ cost of a product, it is hard to price, focus and know where to spend your efforts.”

Meet Weekly

“Get your team together each week. The only focus of discussion should be on goals for the year and progress toward meeting them,” said Bice. This is a good way to keep everyone concentrating on those things you’ve identified to drive your success. If you think about your business, chances are you probably have some of the best answers. Trust in yourself. And, if you need a second opinion, bounce your ideas off the key people you rely on. The solution may not require significant dollars either. Sometimes, it is the little things you do that can have the biggest impact.

This article was originally published in The Rea Report, a Rea & Associates print publication, Summer 2011

Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.