Sales are flat. Your staff seem to lack the passion they once had in abundance. Something is wrong in your business, but you just can’t put your finger on exactly what it is.
Even successful enterprises have moments where they seem to be stuck in a rut. If your business is starting to struggle, don’t sit back and accept it. Take action and turn your fortunes around. A detailed overview of your company could be just what you need to stop the rot and lead to a much-needed overhaul of your business.
Start with the figures
A good place to start turning your business around is with a good look at the books. Look out for any areas of unnecessary spending and identify places where savings could be made: maybe it’s been a while since you negotiated your prices with suppliers or perhaps that excess stock that’s been sitting in the corner of the warehouse for six months could be sold on.
A shake-up of your finances will help you get to grips with your business again. If you know exactly where every penny is going, you may find ways to free up funds for some much-needed investment elsewhere in the business.
Happy staff, happy customers
Next, look at your staff. Ask them if they’re happy and motivated and be prepared for some awkward answers. If they’re not, work with them to find ways to make them happier. Remember that employees are your best resources. A happy workforce will work harder for you and will go that extra mile for your customers.
Don’t be afraid to move people to another department or role. A position that was created five, 10 or even 20 years ago may now be defunct. An administrator’s job today will be very different to what it was several years ago; it may require less time and even fewer people, while your IT demands may have increased sufficiently to require a larger team. Your staff should be evolving just as the rest of the business does.
Motivate your sales force
Sales is the life blood of any company so it’s particularly important to focus on sales staff. No matter how good your product or service, if no-one gets to hear about it or knows how to buy it, it won’t be a success. Selling is a tough job that requires a positive attitude and a highly motivated workforce – and that can be difficult to maintain, especially in tough economic times.
Work with your sales team to find out what will incentivise them best and what tools you can provide to help them do their job. Set targets that are achievable but still aspirational, and never under-estimate the importance of recognising hard work, even if the outcome isn’t always the highest level of sales.
Get a positive online presence
No company in this day and age should be without a website. The internet is the first place most people go to for information, and not having any form of online presence puts you at an immediate disadvantage to your competitors. Websites don’t need to be high-tech to impress, as long as they are easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye.
It’s estimated that around a third of the time people spend online is spent using social media. Harnessing the power of such tools can give your business a real edge, and using it ineffectively can alienate potential customers and suppliers. When using the more popular platforms, it’s important to ensure your content is relevant and regular, creating a voice for your brand that reflects who and what your business is.
While social media offers the brilliant benefit of allowing you to engage directly with your consumers, along with that comes a lot of responsibility. If you take the leap, it is definitely worth having someone within the company who understands it and can take ownership of maintaining it.
Customers using this method of communication to get information, advice or to complain want an instant response to their query and you need to be able to provide that. A Facebook page or Twitter feed that is updated infrequently looks unprofessional.
Expand your network
Is the phone that never stopped ringing suspiciously silent these days? Don’t just sit there in despair. Take the initiative and seek out new clients yourself. There’s no need to cold call people at random. Instead, make a list of people you’d like to work with (perhaps your brand values match, or you know you could provide them with a good service) and seek out ways to meet them, perhaps at exhibitions or industry meet-ups.
If things are quiet, this could also be a great time to meet with existing customers and suppliers to share tips, ideas and contacts. Of course nothing may come of it, but at least it will put you in the forefront of people’s minds should more work come along in the future.
Get a cash injection
It could be that you simply need more money to give your business a boost to get it out of its rut. If a bank loan is out of the question, there may be other routes you could take. Asset-based lending – generating finance against what you already own in the business – could be one option.