The business entertainment media of today like The Apprentice or Dragons’ Den portrays business as hard and ruthless, and that unless these attributes are part of your character, you’ll never make it.
For sure, strength of character is needed, but ruthlessness is not.
“No margin, no mission” is a well-known saying, but it seems the modern trend is “What’s in it for me?” The sale comes first and the service comes second. But I’ve built my business on, “What can I do for you?”
The basics of a successful company will always include: the right product, market, price, marketing message, processes, suppliers and the right team.
But in today’s market I don’t believe this is enough. Consumers have too little time and too much choice, so just having the “right” things in place is simply too risky today. It has to be exceptional, it has to stand out to such a degree that people will stop, look at your business and tell others.
This has been my standpoint for many years and has helped my company grow rapidly.
So, what can make you exceptional? Only you will know that, but as a starter you may like to look at a few things that I’ve found works for me, they’re seldom considered by many but I can testify that it reaps rewards.
Here goes, your true worth is determined not by how much you take from your customers, but by the amount you give in value. Give exceptional value and you’ll reap exceptional loyalty and lifelong customers.
The average business today loses 32 per cent of its customer base every year. This means just to stand still your marketing has to bring in 32 per cent new customers every year. Imagine if you could keep 90 per cent of your customers and your marketing still brought in 32 per cent more – you’d grow 22 per cent in a year.
“Why buy from me?”
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself, “Why would I buy from me?”
Think of things that don’t cost you much but offer great value to your customer, and give it to them. “Oh, but that will cost me,” I hear you say. Yes, but nowhere near as much as losing 32 per cent of your customers.
Your business culture
When people ask me about how I built up my company, I tell them that I haven’t – I’ve built people.
It’s all about building a fantastic culture, that’s your trump card. It doesn’t matter how good an idea or market you have. Without the right working environment, it will fail.
Motivation, inspiration, communication, empowerment, listening and decision making all play a significant part in the culture of your business.
I believe the core of most of us is the desire to make a difference and when you give people the culture and the environment to practice and achieve this; it creates an atmosphere that is truly special.
There are two things people desire more than anything else: to be understood and to be appreciated.
This applies to your team, customers and suppliers. If you genuinely take time to listen and understand people and show appreciation, this transforms them. People open their hearts, follow and believe in you. You can impart your vision and they will own it.
“Do unto others what you would have done to yourself” is a biblical saying, but it holds true today and by applying this to all aspects of my decision-making process, I have built a culture that everyone who touches it feels special.
People naturally want to do what is right, but every so often they’re made to go against this in their work because the sale is most important. It is little wonder why the average person only works at a company for 18 months.
My advice is give more than you’ve ever given and treat people the way you would want to be treated and you’ll not go far wrong.
Kevin Byrne is managing director of Checkatrade.com
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