Alarm Bells Ringing


In business we are focused on getting things done: answering and returning phone calls, responding to emails and requests, ensuring that customers are well taken care of, and so on. We often forget to listen for the sometimes silent alarm bells, which could be ringing and signalling deeper problems within your business.

Are people leaving?

People who you’ve relied on for years are coming into your office and handing in their notice. On top of that you don’t feel like they have given you the real reason why they are leaving. This situation isn’t just limited to your staff but also to your customers, clients, suppliers, and partners.

Is your team taking longer lunches?

Staff have always been conscious of the amount of time they take for their lunch which is typically under one hour. You are now find staff taking extended lunches, returning well past the one-hour mark and you feel unsure how to approach dealing with this situation.

Are you losing good/great customers and clients?

Your customer retention rate should usually sit above the industry standard at 91%. You slowly begin to notice that these numbers are decreasing and you are now sitting below industry standard.

Are you talking more about budget with your customers?

Your business is considered to be dealing with medium to high end customers but the new clientele you are attracting fall into the “budget” category. As a result, you have to lower your pricing to meet these new customers’ demands or face having negative cash flow.

Do you find response times and their quality changing?

Employees have always been extremely responsive to requests made by management, and usually reply within 24 hours of any request. Now, it sometimes takes them several days to respond.

Are you losing profit?

As expected, the recession has decreased everyone’s profits, including your business’. For the most part you’ve been able to weather the storm although of late, you’ve noticed profits are not hitting target.

Are the quality and quantity of referrals ebbing away?

Referrals were something that your business relied on to grow, but those referral numbers are decreasing, and you find that your customers are not talking about you to their other business connections.

It is very easy to hope for the best with the expectation that things will turn around of their own accord. It may be simpler to ignore the early warning signs and assume “This is just a temporary glitch and things will be better tomorrow!”

At this time in our world economy this attitude will not help you succeed and might very well result in business failure. It is time to become more aware of the dark clouds on the horizon and prepare for the storm or rain that these clouds herald. What you need to do is stop to take stock of your business, and then you must create the necessary steps required to improve every aspect of your business; not just what you can see on the surface but also what needs addressing that may typically be ‘under the bonnet’.

Don’t wait until a problem occurs – fix it before you need to and you’ll have a structured business with the right processes, products, and people in place to ensure a better chance of success.

Lexi is a Marketing Evangelist at Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that helps technology businesses redesign their business models to help them communicate to their customers better. You can follow us on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.

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