Agility positions your company to seize opportunities when and where they are presented. It challenges you to be attentive to shifts within your own organization, customer behaviors, staff morale, and industry trends. If you find that much of your operation is running on autopilot—this is just the way it's always been done mentality—but your sales are stagnant or dropping, it is time for a little shake-up.
In this blog series, we are going to look at the critical steps to take before you even begin to make any changes. These preparatory steps will require some introspection, data collection and analysis, and brutal honesty. The "assessments" will provide you and your team with the information needed to make smart, thoughtful change based on solid information and help you gain agility to face the challenge of inevitable change.
Do You Hear Your Customers?
We all start our business with a vision. Whether we write it down or not, that vision is what drives us forward, influences our decisions, and shapes our company's future. So we need to start with that vision and ensure that it matches the direction of our customers. Take some time to answer the following questions (*Virtual Advisor, 2018) thoughtfully. You might also want to have important team members answer these as well so that you can get a more comprehensive view of where your company is and what direction it might need to go.
- Have you seen a drop in sales or have they flatlined?
- Are you gaining customers or are you losing them?
- Are your employees engaged, motivated or are they not as involved in company meetings and brainstorming sessions?
- Do your customers seem excited to purchase your product or engage with you through social media or other means? Have they lost any enthusiasm?
- Has your staff stopped putting out new ideas, taking initiative? Have they fallen into the "rut of routine?"
- After that strategic planning meeting do all the new ideas stay ideas--never becoming reality?
- Have any new businesses entered the market that are in direct competition with you?
- Do competitors outpace you with idea generation and taking advantage of trends?
- Have any new technologies affected the usefulness of your product?
You may need to do some homework in order to adequately answer these questions. Are you keeping up on your inventory to track what your customers are buying and what they are leaving on the shelves? Are you tracking your engagement on social media and through your customer service channels to spot trends, red flags, or opportunities? Do you know what is current in the industry? Have you surveyed your staff lately? Take a look at other successful companies that have implemented and adapted to change and take some notes.
In next month's blog, we'll take a look at the types of changes to make and how to figure out which one/ones are right for your company. The Chamber is always here to help. Please contact us at 828.652.4240 with any questions or if you need assistance.