By Jeff Sigler, VP of Sales
Do you find yourself wondering why some businesses thrive and others flounder when the going gets tough? Are there things you can do to help you be more competitive?
With a successful business built through the challenges of the past 12 years, FormDecor modern furniture rental has repeatedly proven its strength and resilience both creatively and financially. Below are the 7 guiding principles that have seen us through:
1) Fiscal responsibility – Constantly evaluate your business for financial “leaks”. Do you have any unnecessary expenditures? Are employees being tasked efficiently? Do you have an emotional attachment to part of your business that is not performing well? Are administrative tasks standardized to ensure efficiency AND prevent costly errors? Answers to these questions may evolve over time depending on employee abilities and client demand. Be diligent and don’t be afraid to make changes that will keep you competitive.
2) Core competency – Determine what it is that you do well and focus your efforts AND your clients’ attention on that expertise. Be honest with yourself… there is something you know your business does as well or better than your competition. Are you promoting that clearly and concisely to your current and potential customers? Or are you confusing the matter by trying to be everything to everybody? FOCUS your business around your core competency and build a network of resources that can fulfill your clients’ other needs. Your customers will appreciate the insight and honesty while viewing you as a helpful resource that can connect them with a network of other services (like your ISES network!).
3) Market niche – What makes you different from all the other businesses in your industry? In a list of similar businesses, what would prompt someone to choose you? Differentiating your product/service from the competition is one way to develop a strong client following. Every business is unique simply because the people that staff that business are unique individuals. What is your distinctive business personality or your exclusive product feature? Are you promoting that?
4) Service – People want to do business with people that make their job easier or more pleasant. Try to view your product and service from the perspective of your customer. If you were your customer, what would impress you? (i.e. timeliness, friendliness, efficiency, helpfulness, follow-up, reliability, etc.) Most qualities that people attribute to good customer service don’t even cost you anything more to provide. Customer service is a mindset. Are you and your staff in the right mindset to provide top-notch service?
5) Stay current – Keep up on the trends in your industry. Face it, very little stays the same in any industry. You don’t want to be left behind! Keep abreast of technology, design trends, and service trends… and then take it one step further! Not only must you offer your clients what they need now, you should also be prepared to offer them something different, unique or better for the future. We live in a “been there/done that” culture – keeping it fresh and relevant is essential to long-term business success.
6) Upgrade – Whenever you have time and resources, don’t rest on your laurels, UPGRADE your product or service to be even more appealing to your customers! No business runs so perfectly that there’s no room for improvement. Look for those things that you could do better, and figure out a way to improve them. And make sure your customers know about your business enhancements. They will appreciate it even more if you make them look good to their clients.
7) “Cast your net wider” – Always continue to build your client base. Because there are so many factors affecting the success of any industry, there will always be flux in your active client list. To keep from getting caught short, a two-pronged approach to client development is ideal… (1) Ensure you keep in touch with existing customers and provide them with a good reason to return to you in the future, and (2) Constantly expose yourself to new prospective customers. Look outside the obvious pool of customers to cultivate new markets. NETWORK and listen to other people’s suggestions for new leads. As you develop networking relationships, your network will talk about your product to others, becoming a de facto extension of your sales force!
Whether you’re just starting your business or have been established for many years, the above 7 principles will help to keep you competitive. In a tough economy, you will greatly improve your chances of success by consistently fine-tuning your business to serve your customers better. It takes insight and effort, but there really is no alternative if you expect to compete. As some wise man once said, “You cannot sit on the road to success, for if you do, you will get run over!”