ICS Magazine

How Strong is Your Business?

December 21, 2010


During the recent economic meltdown, many businesses that seemed to be strong faltered. As you face each day as a business owner and react to everyday demands, do you stop to think about how strong your business is?

There are four major “parts” of every business that must be strong for it to be as successful as possible. Of course, there are many sub-parts, but these major areas, which I call “pillars,” are the first step to looking at your business as a whole:

Pillar No. 1: Marketing
Pillar No. 2: Sales
Pillar No. 3: Operations
Pillar No. 4: Administration

Once you understand the pillars and their function, just like when constructing a building, you can begin to strengthen the ones that are weak, increasing the value and function of that building.

Most small businesses I come in contact with can use a lot of help in all of these areas, but I find that most small-business owners are strong in one particular area (usually operations) and not so much in the others.

So, to build a better, stronger business, start by assessing the pillars to determine how you are doing in each area. Get out a piece of paper and create four columns, just like pillars, and make some notes using the following guide:

No. 1: Marketing

Marketing is everything you do to attract prospects to your business. This includes advertising, referral programs, mailers, Internet marketing, networking, direct selling, and anything else you might do to attract prospective clients.

 First, ask yourself whether you have enough work. If not, that may mean you don’t have enough calls coming in. Are you getting as many of your perfect clients as you want? Are you generating enough referrals? Are you spending too much on advertising? Unless you are truly in complete demand and booked up as much as you want, there is work to do in this area. For help, consider going to www.icsmag.com, search “Howard Partridge” and find a number of marketing strategies to grow your business. 

No. 2: Sales

“Sales” is everything you do to turn a prospect into a paying customer. This includes answering the phone, your phone scripts, presentations and so on. Once they are on the schedule, they are a customer.

 Many times you may not need more prospects, but you need to take better care of the leads you get. Is your phone answered live? Is your phone answered in the most professional way possible? Do prospects and clients have a great experience when they call your company? Are your closing ratios what they need to be? Do you consistently make the add-on sale? Do you have proven scripts for your people to follow, so that you aren’t the only one that can close the “big deals”? Do you have phenomenal on-site sales materials? Increasing your closing ratios and your job averages can have a big impact on your business. 

No. 3: Operations

Once the customer is scheduled, you must provide them with an outstanding service experience so that they will return again and again, and refer you as well. So “operations” is everything you do to serve the client. This includes getting the equipment prepped, driving to the jobsite, your cleaning procedures and everything you actually do to serve the client.

 Do you have service systems in place, so that your clients get the most outstanding service experience ever, consistently, every time? If you have employees, do you have to tell them over and over what to do? Do you know how to properly coach an employee back to performance? Do you know the right way to terminate someone?

 Your employees are your greatest asset or your biggest nightmare, and that depends mostly on your leadership skills. And if you do not have solid operating systems in place, you don’t have a real business, you have a job. Which means you won’t be able to get much if you want to sell it. And it means that your “job” will be much harder than it needs to be. 

No. 4: Administration

The final pillar is the tracking piece. This is your P&L (Profit and Loss), your job average, your production rates, your closing rates and everything else that needs to be tracked to confirm that you are profitable and efficient.

Do you know what your cost of doing business is? Do you have a written business plan? Do you have a budget for the next 12 months? Do you have the right insurance and legal protection? Most people are not real savvy when it comes to bookkeeping, tracking software and things that can make this pillar really strong. Learn the numbers. Learn technology. It will do you good. 

Putting Your Plan in Place

Now that you have made some notes of what areas need improvement, you may be feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. Don’t. There are many shining examples of phenomenally successful businesses in our world. Just find a place to start and begin strengthening your pillars. There are many resources available in our industry to help you. You only need the desire and the strong foundation of a great work ethic and belief.

Until, next time, my passion is your phenomenal success!