Have you taken a vacation from your business recently and trusted your processes to keep things afloat?
Some of you may be asking yourself, “A vacation? During COVID-19?” Aside from travel being impractical during the pandemic, you may be anxious about leaving your business during a crisis. Right now, you might feel like you’re in a sinking boat, bailing out water with a holey bucket and wondering how to move forward.
My advice to you is to consider your company’s processes with the following questions: Would your company survive and grow if you took three months off, much less two weeks? Do you want the freedom to unplug and take a vacation or spend time at the cabin with your family? Isn’t that why you became an entrepreneur?
If you haven’t stepped away recently and don’t believe you ever could, then you are letting your business run you. You’re not winning at business. You’re tied to processes that are simply not working, and it’s time to make some serious changes.
Examine The Numbers
In my years of mentoring and coaching business owners, growth is often a key point of discussion. How do we increase sales and get more people interested? And today, we’re asking: How do we win at business when securing customers and growing seems harder than ever?
The answer is simple: Look to your current customers.
Surprisingly, this solution doesn’t change even when the state of the world does. Regardless of the climate outside your business, you must nurture the relationships, services, and processes inside your business to survive.
In order to grow, you need to add new customers. That will never change. But are you forever piling on more customers while just as many are running out the door? If so, you’re spending more money to acquire new customers than you are earning from their business. Say it costs $500 to onboard a new client, but your profit off said client is only $50 a month. It will take you 10 months to break even. After 1 year, you’ve only made $100. How can that be profitable for growth, especially if you factor in the average lifespan of your customers?
Now, consider these facts. Adding 14 new customers every month is a solid growth rate. But, if that number is lower than your churn rate, then you will fall behind. If many customers are leaving while you’re trying to add new ones, you need to find the holes in your processes. That’s what is preventing customer retention.
To put it simply: You can’t fill a bucket with water when it’s full of holes.
No matter how many customers you add, your business won’t succeed unless your processes can support those customers. Continuing to pour more customers into a lackluster system is wasteful and costly. You’ll never grow if your internal processes are stalling out, and your business will continue to run you.
Adapt To Grow
There are many issues that could be preventing client retention at your business. Maybe you aren’t providing enough information or guidance to your customers. They may feel forgotten and frustrated. They may be surprised to learn about a perk no one mentioned to them before. Maybe they don’t feel heard, or maybe whenever they call with a problem, they’re sent through a series of gatekeepers and can’t get an answer.
Whatever the hole is, I guarantee your employees are feeling it, too. No one wants to do their job when they have no idea what they are doing. If they are good employees, then they will feel terrible about letting customers down. (If they don’t, then you need to ask why they are even there.) When employees don’t feel empowered to help customers or don’t have the tools to succeed, how will your customers feel supported enough to stay?
An inspired employee is a dedicated employee. When they feel a connection to the customer, they want to see the customer succeed. In return, that customer feels comfortable enough to stay. Retention is built with your processes and stabilized through execution. As a result, the company will grow.
Build Trust With Transparency
The Harvard Business Review did a study examining the idea of transparency in the restaurant industry. Researchers were curious if interactions between chefs and customers impacted the dishes and customer satisfaction.
They looked at 4 different scenarios. The standard restaurant setting where chefs and customers never see one another was the control group. In another group, the customers could only see the chefs. In the third group, chefs had monitors to watch customers, and in the final group, customers and chefs could both see each other.
The results were staggering. Chefs who had previously taken shortcuts in their day-to-day processes opted to make all the food fresh. They avoided shortcuts when they knew customers were watching them. Perhaps most surprisingly, chefs were just as motivated when they could watch the customer even when the customer couldn’t see them.
For chefs, the processes changed when the customer was a tangible person they could see. The customer became more than just someone eating a meal; they were someone the chef wanted to please.
As a result, the customers also reported higher satisfaction ratings. Diners who could see their chefs enjoyed the experience more than those who could not. If you read between the lines, those are returning customers. And returning customers won’t be alone. They will bring friends, celebrate anniversaries there, or take their parents there for brunch. Do you see where I’m going with this?
If we take the chef experience and boil it down to sales and business, then we learn a simple lesson: A stable foundation that’s ready for growth comes from secure processes that are built to retain the customers you have. You will never fill a leaky bucket. It’s time to patch up your processes and watch your business boom.
So, do you think you can take a vacation from your business? If that idea still seems impossible, it’s time to look at your processes and implement more effective strategies.