Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"Consider Just How Much More Business You Need"

At the beginning of the year, every business has their sights set on a revenue projection that they have made for the balance of the year. Sometimes it's based on a careful calculation of what is needed to pay all of its expenses and make a reasonable profit. Sometimes, it's just a dollar (or some incremental amount) more than the previous year. Sometimes it's a nice round number that sounds like it would be a good amount to strive for and achieve.

In the case of aging-in-place remodeling and consulting business - sole proprietorships, partnerships, or corporations - sometimes there are products involved (such as doors, windows, flooring products, lighting fixtures, hardware, cabinets, countertops, appliances, accessibility devices, and mobility assistance). Sometimes there are services (assessments, consulting, concierge, or caregiving). Sometimes there is a blend of both.

Nevertheless, customers and clients need to be produced that can be served. There is a certain amount of satisfaction gained in working with and helping those people to have safer and more comfortable, convenient, and accessible homes. There also is knowing that you have provided a valuable service.

There are many ways of generating customers and clients to serve. One of the most effective ways of producing new business - and the most cost effective also because it frequently is free or nearly so - is through referrals.

These happen in two distinct ways. One is the incidental referral where someone you have done a good job for tells friends or relatives of theirs and that person (or even someone once removed from them) contacts you about doing work for them. You definitely will receive referrals in this way, but you won't know in advance how many you will get over time, when they will come, and how much money they will represent in terms of business. 

The second type of referral is the requested one. This occurs when you are meeting with your client or customer while you are selling the job or completing it and they tell you how pleased they are with your approach or outcome. Then, you ask them for the specific names - and the way to contact them - of people they know who have talked with them about doing something similar in their homes.

Of course, advertising is another way of producing new business - newspapers, radio, magazines, online ads and websites, direct mail, flyers, and similar types of outreach. This is a more passive approach because one never knows how many people will respond, how soon after the message has been published people will contact you, or what type of a project they will desire or request. Until you actually hear from someone, it's as though you never ran the ad or produced the message.

How you decide to proceed with driving your message into the marketplace to produce new customers and clients is a factor of how much business you need to make your revenue projections. This will change at various times of the year depending on how much work you already have completed or committed to do, the number of proposals or estimates you have outstanding that could materialize, and your current workload at that time.

You will be asking yourself just how much more new business you need to generate and just exactly how prepared you are to accomplish anything else you might sell - in terms of logistics and ability to complete it. If you do a great job of generating new interest from advertising, home shows, or referrals, for instance, and it turns out to be more than you physically can respond to and complete in a reasonable period of time, you may need to adjust how you advertise for new business - or adapt to the increased demand for your products or services by expanding your team or raising prices.  

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.