Nov 192016

growthThis is the third installment of my series on Business Growth.  You can find the previous one here.  This time, we’ll look at what growth is, or what it can be.

Business growth is often thought of as more revenue, more customers, more products, more… something.  All of these things may be part of a company’s growth, but there are also some less obvious things as well.  Here are three:

  1. Operational excellence
  2. Increased customer satisfaction
  3. Increased employee engagement

Operational excellence means making constant improvements that make your company more efficient, less wasteful, and more effective at what it does.  Things like decreasing your sales cycle times, removing paperwork or “busy work,” and increasing the quality of what you sell.  Specific improvements are unique to you and your business; the idea is that constant improvement eliminates waste and stress that can prevent or slow growth – it does not create growth on its own.

Constant improvement eliminates waste…it does not create growth on its own.

Increased customer satisfaction is a simple concept that incorporates some very difficult tasks.  Do you engage your customers after the sale?  Do you check back in a month or two and see how they are doing?  Do you ask for their feedback to improve your product or service?  (Do you act on it?)  Do you bend over backwards to make sure that they are 100% happy with every aspect of buying from your company?  This means pre-sales engagement, the sales process, post-sales support, and more.  Treat your customers like royalty and they will repay you in ways that are worth more than any advertising.

A conversation with a potential customer of ours ended with us saying that were not the right provider for them but would recommend a competitor and work with them to get things installed correctly, even though we would be making no money from the deal.  That non-customer was so impressed that they have been referring others to us ever since.  Their high praise has led to a number of zero-cost customer acquisitions (aka, “growth”).

Wegmans LogoSo what about increased employee engagement?  What do you think your company would be capable of if everyone who worked there had the same passion, desire for success, and dream of a future that the founders and executive leadership team had?  Maybe you’re familiar with Wegmans – Fortune’s #4 in the best places to work in America (2016).  Have you ever met a Wegmans employee?  Do you see their passion for their job?  How excited they are to work there?  Does their excitement make you want to shop there?  Do you bring friends and family or colleagues from out of town to Wegmans?  Lots of people do.  Lots of local companies do, too!!

The success of Wegmans is more than just low-priced groceries.  They make every employee feel like they are the most important employee.  They want every employee to be excited to go to work and work hard for their customers.  They listen to their employees, they listen to their customers, and they consistently grow as a result of constant improvement, making customers their number one priority, and having very high employee engagement.

The tools Wegmans uses to measure, create, and execute their growth are people, processes, and controls.  Next time, we’ll start looking at just what the “people” part of that toolset is all about.