Everyone wants their business to succeed. You want your business to be around next year and the following year, don’t you? The question is, how many customers do you need to be successful and, more importantly, sustainable?
Here are four tips for preparing your business for growth.
1. Treat your business like a restaurant.
Do you have enough capacity to accommodate an increase in your customer base? Before you decide to acquire more customers determine whether that strategy is realistic. Take inventory of whether your production and assembly facility can handle an increase of even 10 percent more customers. Everyone dreams of their business being wildly successful. The reality of growth without preparation is like giving a party where everyone shows up -- at the same time. Can you feasiblly and successfully serve everyone?
2. Build your growth strategy around a loyal and retained customer base.
If you are constantly replacing customers you lose, that’s no growth strategy at all. A loyal and retained customer base is comprised of your early-adopters and continuous ambassadors. These folks become the fulcrum for leveraging improvements, new product introductions, enhanced and expanded services and referral business. They are gold. Identify who they are early on and make them the focus of your attention over the long haul.
3. Acknowledge customer growth angst.
Your early customers can become anxious as your business grows. Some early adopters will perceive that you have become “too big and famous” to meet their ongoing needs. Create a strategy for maintaining contact with and reassuring your first customers that your success is founded on their belief in you. Realistically, your growth strategy should include how to transition smaller accounts to other companies better able to meet their needs. Some original customers won’t want to increase their job size to meet your need for a customer base seeking increased capacity and complexity -- especially in the case of manufacturers.
4. Differentiate yourself and your business via continuous customer touches.
Build your business on the basis of customer experience: The sum total of what each customer experiences when working with you and your company over the lifetime of your relationship. Think about it like a restaurant: You won’t maintain a loyal customer base if you are running around your overcrowded restaurant trying to serve new customers while your original customers wait outside in the rain. If you need to make changes, be transparent. Communicate with your customers and prepare them for changes you are making. It’s better to offer to transition them to other suppliers (in advance) than to disappoint them with your lack of attention and have them voice their feelings to the community.