Plan and prepare:
Without a business plan there won’t be a strategy in place to keep your business afloat. What does your business want to achieve over the next one to three years? Define key goals showing what you want to achieve and implement SMART objectives to accomplish them. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound. When developing goals, they should be SMART.
Know your customers:
How well do you know your customers? Understanding measurable information on your customer base will help you to target new customers. Complete an audit of your current customers and you’ll be able to create a persona of the ideal customer – where they live, what they do, habits, behaviours and interests. This will make targeting much easier and will enable you to develop a sound plan.
Once you have a thorough understanding of your ideal customer you’ll know how to target them. Open communication is key and informing customers of relevant business information is vital to not only retain current customers but to also attract a new base. A current website which is updated regularly with news and blogs will keep interest. Social media channels are great for live information and a simple place for customers to access the latest news is important. Newsletters are also a key way to communicate with customers who don’t use social media.
Be proactive not reactive. Understand your customer’s problems and find ways to overcome the issues before they arise. Maintain regular contact and plan, this will enable you to remain in control of situations rather than reacting when they arise. Planning means you’ll be able to foresee long-term consequences and decide how to deal with them should they arise.
Any business model requires some degree of flexibility. Improving flexibility at a strategic level and among employees will be productive. Cash flow is a key issue for many SMES and having a flexible approach to finance will keep your options open and help with margins. A flexible approach for staff is important in today’s workplace. Many companies offer flexible working hours and work from home schemes which can help morale and staff retention.
A happy customer is not only likely to return but there’s also a high chance they’ll refer business on to you. Respond to all customer enquiries, be attentive and communicate through all channels. Use positive language and respond to all messages whether good or bad.
Customer feedback is essential. Asking for customer’s impressions of your business will help you to continually improve. A quick email after a product or service has been delivered can provide valuable feedback for you to act on.