Re-Visit, Re-Fresh, Re-Vitalize, Re-Invent, and Re-Gain
To improve the likelihood of success in your business, I would suggest some simple steps to improve and grow your business over the course of the next twelve months. I will be referring to these simple steps as the Five “R’s”: Revisit, Re-Fresh, Re-Vitalize, Re-Invent and Re-Gain.
When was the last time you evaluated the strategic plan for your business? Have you even established a strategic plan for your company or firm? If so, have you re-visited that plan recently? Do you know to whom you should be selling your services? Who are your target prospects for new business? Have you been ensuring that your existing customer/client base is happy with the services you provide? How do you know they are truly happy?
It is time to dust off that strategic plan (or establish one if you have not done so already). What are the guiding principles or core values that are the basis for your business? Are they still relevant in today’s ever-changing market place? Do you and those that work for you know what these core values are? Are they part of the daily “fabric” of your business? If not, they should be.
It is critical to re-visit your company’s core values, strategic plan, and short and long-term goals. These items serve as your map – your compass and will be the basis for you to evaluate your company’s success or failure. Like an airplane pilot or ship’s captain, successful business men and woman must take regular compass readings to ensure the business stays true to its course. Re-visit your ‘compass’ often. Of equal importance – share the direction and goals you have established with your employees so they clearly understand your vision. Share how your company is performing in relationship to your plans, goals and objectives with those same employees. In this fashion, you will convey the importance of your company plans and goals and begin to seek buy-in from those who work for you. Soon, they too will consider your company’s core values and objectives as part of their understanding of their role, responsibility and purpose in your organization.
Now that you have dusted the cob-webs off of your strategic plan, reviewed your core values and reconsidered your short and long-term goals, you must now update and refresh your plan. Ask yourself… how relevant are my core values to the market today? Will my customers respect the core values I have established and consider the same important and valuable to them as a customer? Are your short and long term goals realistic? Are they measurable? Can you assess your success as to these goals? Will reaching your goals help you maintain your position as a leader in the market place?
If not, refresh them. Re-establish and modify your plans to ensure you are ‘pushing the envelope’ and being the best provider of service in your industry. If you are not, you are simply wasting your time and your customers will seek and find those who are the best. If your plans and goals are not based upon your core values and those core values are not built into how you conduct business daily, your plans are not worth the paper upon which they are written. Re-fresh your plans. Divide the long-term goals into smaller, manageable and measurable short term goals. Make sure you are providing unparalleled customer service when meeting your goals. If you do, you will be successful.
It’s time to rally the troops!! After you have re-evaluated and refreshed your strategic plan, goals and objectives, share your ‘new’ vision with your team. Help them understand the need for this critical plan and the direction it provides for your organization. Assist your team to evaluate their activities in the name of customer service. Seek your teams input. Re-vitalize your team. If you fail to do so, your team will not be marching in step with your vision to be the best in your market. As part of your re-vitalization, recognize those services at which you are truly the best.
What do you do better than anyone else? Identify those activities you have undertaken for years that have either lost money for you or in which you have tried, but simply cannot compete. Make the hard choice not to engage in those activities anymore. Develop niche markets that are uniquely yours and in line with your core values and strategic planning. Re-focus your time and resources on those services at which you are truly “world class”. Re-direct your energy and the energy of your team toward being completely customer service minded in your niche markets. If you do, you will be unstoppable.
Armed with your core values, a new or improved strategic plan and measurable short and long-term goals, you are ready to re-invent yourself and your business and to effectively and efficiently respond to the changing market – even better than your competition.
For example, it is time to reinvent your marketing strategy. Do you have a marketing strategy? How effective is it? Does it put you in a position to be the best in your niche market? How are you measuring the effectiveness of you marketing strategy? Or are you spending money on brochures or mailers, but really don’t know how effective they are? What goals have you established for yourself and your company/firm? How can you effectively gauge the success of your business without first establishing measurable goals?
When I was practicing law, it was very easy to get caught up with the day to day grind of practice life, but forget to evaluate the success (or failure) of the firm in addressing our clients’ needs. Were our clients happy? Did we meet their expectations as to the level of service we provided? Would they recommend us to others? Would they come back when they needed our legal services again? Oh sure, most of the time they paid their bills. Does that mean we were successful in our clients’ eyes?
Just a simple change to re-invent my business model and gain more input from my clients was all that was needed. When I completed a case and was about to send my final invoice for services rendered, I included a simple one page survey on brightly colored paper and asked the client to grade our effectiveness. Were we responsive to their questions? Did we do what we said we would do? Did we do so in a timely manner? Did we represent their interests effectively? Would they recommend our services to others? What things could we do better?
Most importantly, I sent along a self addressed and stamped envelope. In this manner, I sent two important messages. First, I was interested in my client’s perspective on how well or poorly we had serviced his or her needs. Secondly, I valued their input so much, I was willing to incur the cost (of the survey, the postage, etc.) to gather their feed-back and improve my services.
This same process could apply to any service oriented business. So often, we are not effectively evaluating our services and simply going about providing less than optimum service over and over again. Reinvent yourself and your business to ensure you are providing unparalleled customer service. Remember, if you are not… your competition will.
Re-Gain the excitement. All of us began doing what we are now doing because we liked helping others and having satisfied customers. Somewhere along the line, your business was no longer interesting or fun. My hope for you is that in going through the exercise of applying the Five R’s, you will regain a fresh perspective on what you do and for whom you do it. I hope that you enjoy your work. If you can re-gain a focus and a vision for your business, perhaps you will again enjoy what you are doing. If not, you owe it to yourself and your customers to recognize this fact and adjust accordingly.