The Ultimate Checklist: Getting Ready for 2012

We’ve created your ultimate checklist by analyzing our surveys of more than 120,000 local homeowners and interviews with owners of local top-rated companies.

How to conduct a 10-minute brand audit.
How valuable is your company’s brand? It’s the all-encompassing visual and spiritual signal of who your company is. Your brand is everything that is communicated to consumers, whether you focus on it or not. This includes how you answer the phone, what your office looks like, the design of your logo, etc. Embrace it—every interaction with your potential customers, through media or in-person, creates helpful or hurtful brand impressions.

Conduct a short audit of your brand impressions and take action in 2012 to improve specific presentations of your brand. First, look at the physical (analog) world. Write down how your company is presented within the work environment. How is your staff dressed and how do they interact with customers? What type of language and tone do they use? Commit to emphasizing the positive and correcting the negative.

Next, take all your company’s advertising and web-related information, stick it on a wall, and look at it carefully. What images and words give signals that best represent who you are as a company? Are there any that downgrade your company’s appearance? Commit to fixing the problems and featuring the best representations of your brand.

How to supercharge referrals by using this turn-key program.
Step 1: Do great work.

Step 2: Give each customer a copy of your Diamond Certified brochure, which profiles your company and proves you deliver high quality to the vast majority of your customers. When you hand your brochure to your customer, thank them in advance for referring your company. Write their name on the brochure and suggest they hand it to a friend or family member. Mention you’re giving small gifts to each referrer as a symbolic “thank you” for helping introduce a new customer.

Step 3: When you get referrals, keep the referrer in the loop. Make sure she knows her neighbor did use your company. Provide a small gift with a handwritten thank-you note.

How to get staff buy-in for your company’s growth.

Your company won’t grow unless your employees want it to grow. There are several keys to creating an environment for growth. The first is communication. Present clear reporting on key company growth numbers to all staff on a regular basis. Then, hold monthly brainstorming sessions and collect ideas about how to achieve growth. Pick one idea and get everyone behind it. Set up bonuses and recognition, both on an individual and team basis. Finally, celebrate small victories and keep the process going. You’ll eventually get your growth!

How a simple change to your income statement will help.
Most of us use a Quickbook template to view our financial statements—you can easily import it to Excel and add other columns and calculations. I suggest you take each major category of cost (product, direct service, sales, and G&A) and calculate your cost per new customer, per existing customer and per total customers. Look at this formula each month. I promise it will be eye opening and you’ll decide to make some changes based on small discrepancies you notice.

Here’s an example for ABC Company:

Monthly Revenue: $50,000
Product Costs: $5,000
Direct Service Costs: $20,000
Sales Costs: $10,000
G&A Costs: $8,000
Profit: $7,000

Number of new customers served: 5
Number of existing customers served: 52
Total customers served: 57

 

Jim Stein, Founder and CEO

About Jim Stein, Founder and CEO

Jim Stein is the founder and CEO of American Ratings Corporation. Through his interactions with more than 6,000 local companies and analysis of over 1 million consumer survey responses, Jim has developed easy-to-understand strategies for consumers to enjoy consistently positive customer experiences and for companies to better satisfy customers, increase referral rates and reduce customer attrition.
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