Routinely I have conversations with others in my industry about the status and impact the economy is having on their businesses. We’ve decided that the success or failure of a business stems from several factors. Where there’s visual evidence that others in an industry you belong to are working, you can reasonably assume there’s enough work for you.
A quick way to determine if your business is competitive within your industry is to see what your competition is doing. A quick stop at the local supply distributor(s) is an easy way to find out. If your competition is in regularly purchasing materials necessary for their job sites, then you can assume they are working.
If you don’t see anyone from the competition and the salesman climbs over the counter to greet you, then you can also assume no one has been in purchasing from them. Such indicates that consumer demand is down and the economy is equally affecting everyone.
So you discover that several of your competitors trucks are at the distributor all stocking up on parts. This should tell you that you have a problem. Time to investigate, but where to start?
The source of the problem could be in how you market your business. Time to compare what your competition is doing with what you are doing to attract and retain customers.
Maybe that’s not what’s happening. Let’s set aside the external marketing for moment. Are you getting referrals from existing or previous customers? If not, why? Were these customers satisfied with the work performed? Are your employees representing the professional image, performing quality workmanship and showing customer appreciation that you, as the owner, would?
Your employees should be your best marketing resource. If they extol excellence and value, then your customers will become your best advertisers. If they don’t, those employees are destroying not only their reputation but the owner’s as well.
Train for the task as well as the marketplace. Teach your employees how to do the job right as well as how to present themselves and your company. Marketing starts inside the company walls, not outside. That comes second, because if your staff isn’t in the same mindset and invested towards success as you are, then you’re stalled at the starting line.
No matter how much time, energy and money you spend marketing you and your business it will all be offset with catastrophic effect if your employees only care about getting a paycheck.
Things a little slow? Are your employees out advertising your business by attending trade shows, calling on perspective clients, open houses, community meetings or knocking on doors handing out literature? If not, maybe they should be.