Tag Archives: brand building

Focus On Your Customers

One expert might advise that you focus your business on sales in 2014.  Another might suggest you focus on productivity.  Those may be good suggestions, but your focus should always – repeat, always – be on your customers.  You may be able to increase sales or production capabilities, but if you lose your customer base – your market share – what will you have?

Do you know who your customers are?  What do they look like?  What do they buy?

Do you know who your customers are? What do they look like? What do they buy?

Placing a consistent emphasis on your clients can be difficult, especially if you have to deal with an employee issue or inventory problems.  It is far too easy to become distracted by the inner workings of your business and lose sight of what’s most important – customers!  Good management maintains the company’s priority on the consumer.

What’s best for your customers?  Is it keeping the sidewalk clean and safe?  Maintaining a pleasant, inviting interior in the store?  Making sure your website is current and easy to navigate?  Offering rewards to loyal patrons?  Ensuring your pricing is reasonable and fair?  Providing a step beyond exceptional customer service?

You may disagree, but weigh whether a misplaced order for stock inventory is more important than making sure a customer’s problems are resolved to his/her satisfaction.  Solve the problem with inventory when the customers are taken care of, or find an employee with the ability to solve it and give them the authority to resolve it.

Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes for these examples:

The line is backed up in a convenience store.  One register is open for several consumers while four employees are behind the counter, joking about who’s going to the bank.  How likely would you be to return to that convenience store if you didn’t have to go there?

You’re parked at the drive-through window of a fast food restaurant.  Your order has been paid for and is sitting on the service table, ready to be handed to you.  Unfortunately for you, the drive-through attendant is talking on their cell phone to their best friend.  Feel like pulling over and having a chat with the manager?  That’s likely to only add to your frustration because the manager is allowing that behavior to happen in the first place.

What do those examples tell us about the company and how well it markets its brand?  It is an all-too-often occurrence in the fast food industry, and irritating to think those employees would do better work if they were paid more.  Company managers need to spend more time in the trenches, like Undercover Boss, and learn what’s happening on the front lines.  Or you can consider engaging Brand Irons as a secret shopper to do the investigating and report back on the findings … provided you’re ready for the truth.

Brand Irons has some rather simple solutions to remaining focused on your customers, and it starts at the top of any organization:

1) Take the time to think through what your customer service orientation is and should be;

2) Take the time to train your employees on what the expectations are for customer service … all the time, and hold your employees accountable; and,

3) Take the time – whatever it takes – to take care of your customers the way they want to be taken care of … remember and never lose sight of that objective.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand! 

Planning for 2014

Now that it’s less than a month away, it’s time to take a few minutes and think through your business strategies for 2014.  If you’ve already done this, take some time to review them and make sure you are going to be on the right track.2014 Ornament

First step – What is the right track?

Look at where your business is today and try to project out a year from now.  Where would you like to see your business in mid- to late-December 2014?  Have sales shown an increase or are they holding steady?  Will you be in a growth stage?  Transition phase?  Or will it be time to think about exit strategies?

The key area to consider is what your consumers want and need.  You need to know what the market is asking for, and then be prepared and able to deliver it on a consistent basis.  Be on top of industry changes.  Know your market.  Some communities are a year or two behind on trends, and you need to know where your consumers are in your marketplace.  You should be slightly ahead.

Second step – Where are your profit margins?

Remember, you’re in business to make money. Consumers understand that, yet still want a good value at a fair price.  They also want to know why you’re different from your competitors so they can rationalize buying form you and remain loyal to your brand.  If the margin you’ve been operating on has provided your company with good profitability, consider making changes to increase your margins.  Those changes could involve cost reductions, if appropriate.  They could mean price increases if the market will bear them, at the potential risk of pushing too far and losing market share.

Third step – How strong is your brand?

If yours is the only barbershop in town, you’ve got a good chance of securing 100% of the market share.  It doesn’t mean you have a strong brand if the way you treat customers is like you’re the only place in town where they can get their hair cut.  You have a strong brand when your customers love coming in, catching up on the latest gossip, enjoying the experience you provide in cutting their hair, and leaving with a satisfied expression because they know they’ve received a good value for the investment.

There are many variables that you need to think through when it comes to strategizing about your business for 2014:  Management, competition, pricing structures, overhead, growth, productivity, marketing (including sales, advertising, and public relations), and finances, among others.  Call Brand Irons at (920) 366-6334 if you’d like some help.

Take the time to think things through … then act!

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand.

Game Plan

A good friend left one professional football team and ended up playing for a different one for a couple of years before he retired.  The one he left had a consistent record of making the playoffs, winning championships, and having a waiting list for season tickets.

When he signed on with his new team, he found a locker room full of players more concerned about their paychecks than winning.  The team rarely made the playoffs, usually had a losing record, and had a hard time filling the stands on game days.  He had come from a totally different environment; a positive, winning environment he wanted to create with his new team, so he needed a game plan.

His approach involved helping his teammates understand that if they put forth the effort to be the best players they could be and concentrate on winning football games, they would fill the stands and generate the revenue necessary to more than compensate them for their efforts.  He worked hard on conditioning, talked about the right fuel for the machine, and studied the playbook to perfection.  His teammates started to understand, especially that with the right attitude they might even make the playoffs and win a championship, like he had done with his former team.  He showed them his championship ring.  Donald's Super Bowl Ring

While his impact on the team was a small part of their success, they now contend for the division title every year and have made the playoffs consistently for four or five years.  He had helped the players think things through, adjust their attitude, and play with a different winning mindset.

What’s the game plan for your business?

You can easily do the least possible and get by.  That’s simple.  You will own a business and take an occasional paycheck.  Your company may be remembered one day for providing a product or service that people enjoyed while it lasted.  You may even have an impact on some people’s lives.  Is that your legacy and game strategy?  Is that why you are in business?  Is it enough for you to accomplish?

Or …

Do you want to create, develop, and sustain a comprehensive strategy that builds your brand to have top-of-mind awareness among consumers and own the market for your product or service?  You can work your brand to the point where it has phenomenal impact on whatever plane you wish to dominate, including net profit, market share, employee relations, customer service, and public perception.  It can be done.

Your strategy starts with your attitude.  Answer the question:  Why are you in business?  Then build on that response by surrounding yourself with the right coaches (consultants such as Brand Irons) and players (employees and vendors).  Understand what you’re selling and who your target audience is so they’re willing to buy tickets (purchase your products or services) and come to the games (become repeat customers).

You choose whether your business is mediocre or exceptional.

I go to a certain grocery store for a reason; it’s my favorite.  I could buy food at a store where the prices are cheaper, but I go where I do because the owner/manager will stop and talk to me whenever and wherever I am in the store.  He and his staff understand the relationship with the customer is more important than stocking the shelves.  It makes a difference.

A game plan is a fun way to look at your company’s business plan and market strategy.  Contact Brand Irons to get help putting yours together.