Business Priorities – Expansion Plans

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Dear M & M:

What are some top priorities I should address going forward in my business in 2013?

– Sue

Dear Sue:

Customer experience should be your top propriety going forward. Consumers and buyers are in the driver’s seat. Look at all the choices they have for competing product lines and services. With the increased use of the internet a business owner not only has to pay attention to local competition but, is competing with companies selling similar products and services outside your normal geographic region. It is no longer good enough to treat customers well and aim for customer satisfaction. Today, businesses should be engaged in developing loyal, engaging advocates who would not even consider a competitor because they are emotionally connected, absorbed in and possibly even helped create the offerings or brought in family and friends to make a purchase. Remember the most loyal customers are apt to spend more, pay higher prices and recommend your company. Customer experience is not one thing but a combination of many practices and services: It is a practical and emotional manifestation of how a company delivers on the promise it makes to its customers through call centers, Web sites, products, services, social media presence and word-of-mouth. In short it is delivered in every direct and indirect experience a customer has across all customer and enterprise functions. A recent survey from Bloomberg Business Week Research Services of 307 companies showed that the most important elements of a positive customers experience included the following; The quality and reliability of your company’s services, the quality and reliability of your company products, the perceived value –the importance of the customers perception that they received value for their money, the relevancy and timeliness of interactions with your customers, the responsiveness of your company to customer  feedback and acting on that feedback, the ease of doing business with your company, the consistency of your company’s support and treatment of customers across all channels. Remember the stakes are high. The costs of ignoring customer experience can lead to extinction.

-M&M

Dear M & M:

I am thinking about expanding to a second location. What are some things I can do to help me decide if this is a good idea?

– Mary

Dear Mary:

Here are five things you can do to help make your decision a little easier. 1). Determine if your business can be duplicated (for example run without you). If your presence is critical it cannot be expected to operate well without you. Do all of your customers insist on doing business with you? 2). Measure the strength of your existing location. Is your current location profitable – generating positive cash flow? Can the keys to your success be simulated at another location? Does the proposed second location offer opportunities to access even a larger pool of potential customers in a new and larger market? Are there qualified candidates in this new market to manage your operations and is there an adequate supply of employees that are qualified to expand in this new market? 3) Preform market research focusing on this proposed new location. Besides identifying potential new target markets, identify the strength of existing demand as well as anticipated competition from substitute or competing products as well as evaluating where and who consumers of your product or service are currently buying from.  If an adequate demand doesn’t exist determine the time and costs required in new marketing efforts to create the desired demand to operate profitable in this new market. If possible do a pilot test to see if sales of your product will do well in this new market.

4). Be certain you have secured adequate financing or funding to open a second location. Know all the costs associated with start-up costs as well as operating costs once you have opened.

5). Finally before making the go or no go decision consider other alternatives to growing your business besides opening a second location. One might be able to buy an existing business in this new market or selling through other channels at the existing location by expanding internet sales or partnering with an existing business to grow together.

 -M&M

To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email  hollism@svedf.org

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