This past week my business crossed a huge milestone: launching our third generation e-commerce website. This was the result of 10 months of blood sweat and tears, working hands-on with the website development team. While it sounds tempting to give myself a pat on the back and use my time now to kick back and relax, that's simply not my mentality.
Entrepreneurs are a different breed. "Hustle" isn't just a verb, it's a lifestyle. Within hours of the successful website launch, I was already writing out a to-do list of what was next to come. If you truly want your business to be great, then you must be willing to evolve constantly, striving to improve all facets of your operation. Below are a few strategies for improving your current model from the ground up.
Pay Attention to Your Employees' Needs
If you're fortunate enough to have employees, then you must understand this point: Your employees, not your customers, are the most important part of your business. If you take care of your employees the right way, they will in turn take care of your customers.
Your employees must have a way to communicate with you in an open, judgment-free environment. We run bi-weekly meetings, and at the end of each meeting, we open it up to discuss any employee questions or concerns. In addition, my door is always open for employees to go over any matters one-on-one. It's not enough to just to allow them to voice concerns -- instead it's critical to listen intently and act on resolutions.
Employee failure, in many cases, happens as a result of poor training. Your employees are not mind-readers. They will not operate the way you believe they should unless you teach them how to do so. It's a simple concept yet is unfortunately lost on many entrepreneurs. To get ahead of opportunities for failure in your organization, create detailed operating procedures covering each important process for your business. These procedures will not only improve employee knowledge, but they'll also standardize systems so that your customers can expect the same great experience, regardless of the team member they work with. Employees will then feel empowered to help cover co-workers responsibilities more efficiently in the event of an absence.
Understand the Data
The more you know about your customers' demographics and behavior, the more successful your company will be. Fortunately for us, there are plenty of tools out there to gather and sort this information in easy-to-read dashboards such as Google Analytics, Glew and Kissmetrics. Using the data pulled from these tools, you'll be able to improve website conversions, optimize your landing pages, and develop the most ideal online/offline marketing strategies. Keep in mind, however, that you can also outsource this task to a professional so they can create an actionable plan to leverage this data for you.
Evaluate Your Value
When was the last time you compared your prices to those of your top competitors? If the answer is longer than three months ago, do it now. With competition on the web at an all-time high, you had better believe your customer base doing some product/service price-comparison shopping before buying. Now, don't misinterpret this advice as having to have the lowest-price option. However, being significantly more expensive than your competitors is also a mistake. Customers today have too many options available to them, and thus will simply refuse to overpay. Find the sweet spot and pick a fair price in the middle. Instruct your sales team that instead of pushing price, they should sell the value and service your company offers.
Create a Social Mission
In today's world, it is not enough to just sell a product or service. If you want an advantage over your competition, create a program through which your business can contribute to a worthwhile cause. We've all heard of the "buy one, give one away to charity" strategy used by many companies. These companies are demonstrating goodwill and should be commended for it, but that's not the only thing that's happening here. Millennials specifically are much more likely to purchase from a company that has a positive social mission. In essence, you will not only benefit from the "social good" aspect of contributing something positive to our society, but you'll also turn it into a sound business strategy.
Not sure what cause to align with? Try to think of a cause that is synergistic to your business model. For example, we sell kitchen and bathroom cabinets nationwide online. Since cabinets are made of wood, we partnered up with an organization to plant a tree in our nation's forest for every kitchen we sell. It's these little fixes that will realign your team with your company's values, and truly make your business great again.
Anthony Saladino is the co-founder and CEO of Kitchen Cabinet Kings, one of the nation's largest distributors of kitchen and bathroom cabinetry on the internet. He is the visionary behind the custom online-shopping system, which has revolutionized the industry.