It is easy, when you see that your sales figures are lower than hoped for, to go all out to acquire as many new customers as possible and to get back to full speed as quickly as possible. In many cases, however, you only postpone the problem. A sluggish administration, too much focus on marketing or a lack of solid structure within your team can all ensure that you will be up against the same problem again in no time. Therefore, try a bottom-up approach to ensure that your business operations run as efficiently and systematically as possible; the rest will follow later.
Grow by shrinking
Having a lot of customer doesn't matter if you don't have the right structure to take care of and support them. You run the risk of not being able to offer as much value as promised and the customer is left disappointed. Therefore, try to focus on a smaller number of customers who bring more value to the table. These are customers who turn over higher sales, who bring in higher margins or who are simply pleasant to work with. Perhaps they don't overwhelm you with countless questions, or they even offer to introduce you to their network. These customers offer great value to your business, and allow you to offer great value to them as well. But of course, you can't do that if your business structure isn't set up for it.
A systematic operation makes your life easier and increases the health of your business. By not drawing too broad a scope from your operation - you must, of course, always be able to offer sufficient depth - your work flow remains clear, which in turn makes it easier to optimise it. Integrating fixed routines and processes into your daily operation may require some puzzling at first, but will make your workload a lot more bearable in the long run. Automate where possible, but always make sure the personal element remains, especially in the contact with your customers.
Put the right focus
'I am not achieving the expected turnover figures, so I must sell more'. A logical statement at first sight, but actually a pitfall. By fine-tuning your own system, you will be better able to pick up and satisfy new customers. The same goes for marketing: many company managers invest heavily in marketing - a very important part of lead generation and sales - but would be better off putting everything in order administratively and operationally first. Because bringing in customers only to make a mediocre impression on them is not going to help you in the long run.
Don't go for big changes right away, but build up your success bit by bit. Small improvements do not add much at first sight, but after a while they accumulate to real game changers. To describe this I use the term marginal gains, which I first discovered in the world of cycling.
About a decade ago, cycling team Sky started applying these so-called marginal gains; based on scientific research, they tried to make minimal - marginal - gains in terms of clothing, training schedules, nutrition and countless other categories in which the smallest details can affect their results. If you apply this tactic to your business operations, you will quickly realise that it is not excessive. Small improvements in your workflow, communication, planning or priorities are hardly noticeable individually, but if you make small gains everywhere, progress will soon follow.
Do you want more concrete tips to work on your business? Follow Wodan & Co on Youtube for a weekly tip about entrepreneurship on Wodan's Day or order 'The Convincing Company Compass', a workbook with numerous tips, examples and models to fine-tune your business operations.