Lara Morgan discusses the current issues affecting companies across many different sectors of the economy.
Customers pay your salaries and therefore need to be at the top of your list when it comes to respect and care. Even when your business model changes your current customer base remains important to the future success of the company. And when I say ‘current customer base’, I mean even going back three or four years.
There is never any harm reaching out to customers who may not have purchased any of your products since 2019 or before. Despite any changes in business direction, they may still have a part to play in your enterprise going forwards.
It also goes without saying that, wherever you may be in your journey of growth, ‘always love the current customer because winning that customer was exceedingly tough.’ Never forget that developing efficient and robust sales systems and processes is always the key to business success.
Right now, post-Covid, all businesses have had to change. Many companies, including ourselves, are facing struggles on the retail side due to lack of staff. This can affect even the most basic of tasks, such as product display and the restacking of shelves. I recently travelled through Heathrow Airport and many of the shelves of high-profile retailers were empty. It is a bigger problem than many think.
Never stand still
With my company KitBrix, we never stop investing or moving forward. I am a firm believer that one good decision leads to another. It’s normally productive to attend business events and shows at venues such as Olympia or the National Exhibition Centre. But even this has become more expensive of late, especially if you’re paying your staff to travel by car and they are receiving expenses based on mileage – not helped by the rocketing price of fuel.
So be careful how you cost these events and really milk those wider opportunities that exist. And when you do attend these shows, be prepared to roll up your collective sleeves and work harder than ever.
You’ll be amazed at the importance of simply ‘being there’. To begin with, it’s vital for building relationships with existing and new suppliers. Your teams gain from working together. It’s part of their training, where they can learn the art of presentation by shadowing a more experienced member of the company.
Nowadays, the majority of service industries are feeling the heat and stress of budget constraint greater than ever. It is making the art of ‘decision making’ treacherous, yet it’s become considerably more important to get those decisions correct.
Even business owners have reverted to doing tasks they left behind many years ago. As their companies grew and became more successful, they drifted away from helping out on the ‘shop floor’ and moved more into administration, while hiring staff to carry out these other duties.
But now, it is not uncommon for owners of spa and wellness centres to undertake treatment duties themselves, such as giving a massage or a reflexology session. This is probably because of lack of staff, but may also be a necessity due to spiralling business costs. You could describe this as going back to basics. Leaders are currently ducking and diving just to keep their businesses on track, and this is especially true in the hospitality industry.
Although there are benefits to having senior employees serving customers – because they learn first-hand about modern methods on the ‘shop-floor’ – it can potentially damage new business opportunities as their time is taken away from other important aspects of the company. These aspects are the ones which are reflected in their higher salary figures.
And it doesn’t appear that these endless staffing challenges will be concluding anytime soon. Planning ahead to protect income is becoming more vital than ever. How do companies deal with ‘rainy days’ post-Covid and Brexit? In the case of spa businesses, this has even affected our own enterprise Scentered.
Our gift sets, which are often purchased after a customer finishes their treatment, are not now enjoying the same exposure as before. So we have to find other ways of helping spa owners maintain their revenues. The manner in which a company presents or markets their products needs to constantly evolve. It’s vital to be pro-active when looking after current customers, while still searching for new ones.
The personal touch
Meanwhile, never forget the value of your own team. They are fighting loyally to help your business grow. I have personally become more grumpy and tired as I try to solve the current business conundrums. My working days are definitely getting longer. This has even been pointed out to me by people in my own companies. I was recently told that ‘I am now less genuine about my staff than I was before.’ This hurt.
Like many leaders and managers, we are facing one of the most challenging periods of our careers. But despite so much uncertainty, you still need to maintain relationships inside and outside the company. At times you may need to take a holiday and allow your staff members to show how good they really are. They will also enjoy and benefit from the 10 days or so when you are not in the building. No one is irreplaceable.
There is always a good and a bad time to take a holiday. I have just taken mine.
I turned off my laptop, as well as my business phone, for 14 days. I had complete faith in the people I have trusted to run my businesses. I did not worry about the business falling apart, because the people I employ are the ‘best in class.’
Even though I have been reminded that I have not led by example at all times, I also realise that without these great competent people around me, my companies would not be half as efficient or as profitable as they currently are. They all care about being innovative, looking after customers, as well as promoting and selling products – just as much as I do.