Of course, not all industries are the same but there may be several concepts you can apply to any industry that would set you on the path to success; even when times are hard. These are the main steps Flexpress has taken to outperform the market.
1. If possible, invest. The first thing that happens in an economic downturn is everyone tightens their purse strings. Ironically, that makes it the perfect time to invest. Some of the best deals on property, equipment and materials are to be had when no-one else is spending money.
2. Aggressively market your business. In the same vein as above, for some obscure reason, many companies cut- back on marketing at just the time they should be increasing their spending. With half as many companies investing in advertising and marketing, every £1 you spend on your own exposure is likely to pay bigger dividends.
3. Look for niche opportunities. It’s very difficult to be all things to all people; believe us, we’ve tried! The tighter your target market is, the easier it becomes to become a leader in the field. At Flexpress, we filled much spare capacity by targeting periodicals which are much harder for the ‘low cost’ online competitors to produce any more cost- effectively than we can.
4. Keep your promises. Failure to keep promises is one of the fastest ways to lose customers yet many businesses fail to meet promises all the time. The plumber who turns up late, the telecoms company that doesn’t turn up at all, the builder who leaves the job half finished. The list is endless. Simply by keeping your promises you can differentiate yourself from the vast majority in your sector. Admittedly, it’s not always easy; we have staff holidays, sickness, breakdowns, wrong deliveries and bad days like everyone else but 98 out of every 100 jobs we do are completed by the date we’ve said. If we have to move deadlines, we move the one’s that aren’t so critical and we identify those by talking to our customers and keeping them informed.
5. Understand the numbers. You can only improve what you can measure so it’s imperative to identify the key performance indicators that will help you make the right decisions to move
forward. For example: if you do 40 quotes per week and 25% of those turn into jobs, you’re doing 10 jobs per week. Let’s say the average value of a job is £200 so you’re turning over roughly £2,000 per week. The law of averages would suggest that if you can increase the number of quotes you do to 50 per week all other things being equal, your turnover will rise to £2,500!
6. Use free resources. Unless you’re a ‘know it all’ you’ll always benefit from a bit of extra education or help and there are lots of resources out there that cost nothing to exploit. Every year, Flexpress takes advantage of the De Montfort University’s In Company Project scheme (other Universities run similar schemes). Clever students studying MBAs will come into your company and work on specific projects completely free of charge. The projects we’ve undertaken include: competitor analysis, process engineering, expansion possibilities and health and safety.
7. Keep in contact with the professionals. If you see Bank Managers, Accountants and Solicitors as a necessary evil, you are missing a trick. All of these professionals want you to, and are there to help you, succeed. Get to know them well and work with them to meet your mutual goals and you’ll usually find where there is a will, there is a way.
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