Trading conditions in recent years could be described as ‘interesting’. There can’t be anyone who hasn’t seen some impact – whether positive or negative – from this period of uncertainty. Even when your own business is doing well, you can find yourself looking around at companies where people are laying off staff and making cutbacks and worrying that the doom and gloom will spread.
What’s interesting though, is that the same foundational activities that underpin a solid business are as relevant today as they were five years ago. Yes, some things are different. One example is that social media algorithm changes mean it’s harder to grow your audience and get your posts seen by the right people. But that means it’s even more important to make sure you’re communicating the right messages to the right people via the right channels.
We’re hitting that point in the year where if you want your business to be on track as we go into 2024, then it’s time to act. There are three full months left before the distractions of December are upon us. The actions you take now will have an impact in early 2024, so what do you want to put in place to help make sure your year gets off to a good start?
I know myself that applying my engineer’s mind to my marketing and business development is a big part of what’s enabled me to grow Super Structures Associates to the point where we have a team of engineers. I also know that sometimes you need to hear something a few times, or in different ways, before you take action, which is why I talk about these ‘business basics’ regularly. Running a business is stressful, so if you can take what I’ve learned on board and act on it, I know it will help ease some of those stresses.
Let’s look at three key areas:
1. Getting clients through the door
How do people get to hear about you? Are you doing the right business development and marketing activities to make sure that you have enough enquiries coming in?
Most of us know what we should be doing, but you need to be quite organised to ensure you stick with those activities even when things get busy. Consistently doing this work is what helps you to avoid the peaks and troughs. Face-to-face networking, entering awards, updating your website regularly, staying in touch with the people who send work your way, having a regular social media presence and growing your own email list are all good ways to make sure you’re getting your business in front of people and attracting new clients.
2. Following up repeatedly
There’s a critical time after someone’s made an enquiry and you’ve sent out a quote, when you need to keep a close eye on what’s happening. As well as following up initially, it’s well worth calling people a few weeks later to check where they’re at. Many projects are lost simply due to lack of follow-up, so if you don’t have a system in place for staying in touch with potential clients, set one up.
Using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) is an excellent way to keep things organised, but you can start with a spreadsheet if that makes things easier.
3. Client ‘offboarding’
What do you do at the end of a project? Do you wrap things up in a memorable way? Do you take the time to have a conversation with your client or ask for feedback? Do you get testimonials from your happy customers? Do you ask if they know of any other people or companies who might need your services? And do you stay in touch?
All of these things can help make sure that your customers think of you when they need your services again, or if someone asks them for a recommendation. Humans are often busy and forgetful, so it’s up to you to make sure you stay front of mind.
Hopefully you’re already doing most of this, but if not then there’s no better time to start than right now. The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, and the second best time is now. Pick one thing to implement and get going on it. And let me know how it goes. It’s always good to hear that my suggestions have made a difference.
In the meantime, if you need assistance with the structural elements of an upcoming project, please do get in touch.