Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Taking Charge of 2001

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Taking Charge of 2001

Article excerpt

Growing business in the new millennium means finding and cultivating customers. Here are 10 tips that can show you how.

Admit it. It's been pretty easy going these past several years. There's been plenty of business. Sure, there's been lots of competition and customers are more demanding than ever. No question about it, we have had to work harder to get the business. Still, the rewards are real.

How will we fare in the year ahead? Will a change in the calendar make a difference? Or will it be just more of the same? Will the good times continue to roll?

Few experts seem to expect any disruptive economic changes in 2001. Even so, there are disquieting factors: the housing market has slowed in certain regions, consumer electronics sales have slipped, some once flush city treasuries are feeling the pinch, more than a few consumer products stocks are underperforming, and several large retailers are consolidating and closing marginal stores. Is all this merely transitional or is it a trend?

Even with all the indicators, the future is an enigma, of course. Whether the economy remains strong or shows signs of weakening, there are steps to take that can help ensure a successful year ahead. Here are 10 practical guidelines:

1. Watch out for unnecessary mistakes. There's an irony of the current economic engine. While there is more business, margins are also getting thinner. That's why IBM took its PCs our of retail venues and is selling them online.

When business is good, there is always the urge to "take it to the next level." While the need for improvement should never stop, there is always a tendency in business to look around for the next mountain to climb. We are always looking for the next challenge. What's happening now can be boring. The "new" and "different" turn out to be excuses to rekindle excitement.

How many "bricks" businesses have ventured off into far more attractive "clicks" country only to discover they had made a mistake. Such mistakes can close the doors. To its credit, Wal-Mart pulled back from launching a major e-commerce operation until it had reconsidered its strategy.

2. Take a close look at your company. Are we sharp? Or, do we just think we are? When we sit around the conference table and talk about ourselves, we come away convinced that we ate the best. It happens every day. One e-commerce retailer, toysmart.com was actually hiring dozens of new staffers the very day Disney pulled the money plug. It is easy to get caught up in our own euphoria. Or to state it another way, it is dangerous when we begin believing our own PR.

What needs improvement? Where are we weak? What steps do we need to take to become more efficient? What are our customers looking for that we're not providing? What traps should we be avoiding? These are the questions for 2001. Greener grass is often an illusion.

3. Keep mining for new customers. Good times can mask future problems. When there's plenty of business, most companies take a vacation from identifying and cultivating future customers. "We have more customers than we can take care of now, why should we be trying to get more?" This is an all-too-common question.

With mergers, consolidations, and continued downsizing, customers disappear. Many a company has been caught off-guard when 25 percent of sales went away overnight. Unless a company is thinking two to five years ahead when it comes to developing new business, it is far too short sighted. Why? Because it is taking longer and longer for prospects to make buying decisions. Unless you prospect when you don't need new business, it won't be there when you do.

Now is the time to set up a new business plan that includes prospect identification and long-term cultivation. Make sure you are providing a stream of new, customers two, three, and five years from now.

4. Focus on what customers are thinking. While there are plenty of dangerous words in business today, these should be close to the top of anyone's list: "We know our customers. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.