Here are 3 ways to scale your business.
1. Get online reviews – and lots of them!
These days, a Google review can shape your business far more than a Google Ad. According to a Zendesk survey, 90% of participants claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decision, and 86% said their decision was influenced by negative reviews.
Have you considered this? I hope so. Reviews are increasingly affecting your status and power online and off. They affect word of mouth, your search rankings, and whether or not your best friend’s wife’s cousin will consider you an option the next time they the service you offer.
As social media expert Brian Solis said,
“Welcome to a new era of marketing and service in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.”
Unless someone has a negative experience to share, the average customer is not going to look for ways to leave your company a review. Unless they are a Yelp troll or feel a deep need to share their thoughts on your business with the world, they’re probably not going to leave a review. It’s not a priority for them.
That’s why you need to ask them to post a review and make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Put direct links to your review profiles in multiple places; for example:
- in a follow-up email
- In your email signature
- in your newsletter
- on your website
- on your business card
Yelp offers downloadable “Find us on Yelp” banners that you can use on your website or print out for your store. Utilize these as much as possible. Also utilize as many review sites as possible that relate to your business – Angie’s List, Trip Advisor, Craigslist, Facebook, Google+, and more, all offer your followers and past customers to leave a review and share them with their friends.
You’ll get some reviews organically from customers who’ve had a super great experience or a very bad experience. Try to make this experience a habit, of course. But for the rest of your customers, you won’t get what you don’t ask for – or at least encourage on a consistent basis.
Your next steps: Set up a Yelp account, put your business on Google Maps, Update your social profiles to match in terms of brand voice and image, create an ESP account like MailChimp, craft an email like above and send to your database and followers, continue delivering above average customers service.
2. Embrace technology
More and more companies are joining the rest of us in today’s digital age. These days, engaging customers takes clever interactions through online marketing, social media and even mobile apps.
Take a look at Domino’s, for example. They used to be a second-rate pizza joint with less than average pizza. So what did they do? They listened to what their customers were telling them and made some big changes. They embraced technology in their big turnaround via a new pizza ordering and tracking systems with a cool new app.
This move allowed Domino’s to give customers more direct control over pizza ordering and to increase transparency for its customers, who could now see when their pizza was being made, cooked, boxed and delivered via The Pizza Tracker app.
Not only that, but Dominos’ let’s their customers order food via text, email, or your new Apple watch or tablet. And then once they received their food, the app allowed customers to the kitchen and providing feedback scores regarding ordering experience, food quality, our satisfaction and loyalty. There’s even an option to share feedback on online restaurant review site Yelp—allowing customer experience to be immediately shared via social channels.
Now that’s understanding your customer!
Through both its TV spots and its social media channels, Domino’s was talking directly to its customers about how the brand was listening and improving things. And many of those customers leaned in and connected. Oh – and they also improved the quality of their pizza and food!
Your next steps: Talk to your customers whenever you get the chance, analyze your online marketing channels and determine if they’re interacting with your customers and prospects in the right way, find ways to make yourself accessible and open for feedback.
3. Know your numbers
It is true that most business owners had no idea how important the numbers were until they actually started their own business. In theory, it often appears like the business numbers are something that bankers and accountant need to worry about while the owner is out there selling.
It can be difficult to dig into explanation of your cash flow, bookkeeping, and fading memories of your accounting class. Do you know your company’s Burn Rate? Do you know what you need to know to successfully operate and scale your business?
Consider the emerging company with sales growing at 10 to 15 percent every month. The company is profitable, but never seems to have enough cash. A common error in this situation is to continue ignoring the numbers, and ultimately the business fails because it’s strangled for cash.
But the informed business owner has an eye on the financials. So what are the most important numbers for every emerging business owner to know? Keep your eyes on these numbers to best manage the financial side of your business:
- Working capital
- Gross profit
- Average dollar sale
- Conversion rate
- Profit margin
- General and administrative expenses
- Marketing expenses
- Research and development
Perhaps you heard recent news that Zirtual collapsed pretty much overnight due to poor financial management. CEO, Maren Kate Donovan says the company wouldn’t have needed much to avoid ceasing operations: “If we had just had another $500,000, we could have made another two weeks of payroll and found probably an external investor which wouldn’t have been a great deal for us, but it would have kept the company,” she says. “The burn rate was much too fast to sustain our operations.”
An extra $500,000 would be a short term fix, but her lack of financial management and understanding would have also made the collapse inevitable when the money dried up again.
Entrepreneurs and business owners who know their numbers have a tremendous advantage over those who do not. The financials tell a story–and understanding the story behind your numbers can be one of the most important ingredients to help grow and scale your business.
Your next steps: Print your profit and loss statement and determine which areas of your business deserve your focus in the short term (I recommend starting with Profit Margins).
Take five minutes to head over to our website at www.smithdurant.com and start mapping your path to scalable success today.