As you read this, it’s now the middle of December and I hope that you have already started to work on the aspects of your life—both personal and business-related—that you want to improve or modify in 2015. I’m a firm believer in making resolutions and the process of assessing, planning and implementing change. However, I found a few interesting and surprising statistics on statistic brain.com. First, only eight percent of people who make new year’s resolutions actually stick to them. Those who fail are usually off the tracks within 10 days. Second, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who do not.
Many of us will see phrases such as “New Year, New You” popping up all over the Web and in print. There is no magic wand to instantly transform your business or you overnight. Although the calendar will certainly change, you will likely be the same person on January 1, 2015 as you were on December 31, 2014. All music retailers maintain a mental list of things they would like to change, but they’re often uncertain how to do so.
Digging deeper, a major reason why people fail is because they set resolutions that are unrealistic. Most resolutions are centered on changing habits. It takes years to develop those habits, and it is unrealistic to think you can immediately overcome a bad habit you have spent years establishing. This can have a negative impact on your sense of self-worth. If you already have a complicated relationship with overeating, the most common way to deal with stress and other aspects of trying to cope is usually to eat more food. Although it does nothing to help with your problem, at least you temporarily get some comfort…only then to feel guilty again. The cycle keeps repeating and progress grinds to a halt.
The same holds true for resolutions focused on improving your business. Now is the perfect time to take a step back and evaluate where your business has come from and where you want to see it go next year.
Resolution 1: Perform an Assessment
It’s time to take a hard look at your business. This includes evaluating your financial health, employees, products, pricing, successes and failures.
What is creating the most profit with the least amount of effort or expense? Do you have the right people in the right places? Are the products you’re selling priced correctly?
What items or brands, because they don’t generate a profit, should be discontinued?
List the most memorable successes from the past year and identify the factors that made each happen. Likewise, do the same for any failures you went through. Once you’ve collected this data, it will help to provide a clearer picture of your overall situation.
Resolution 2: Improve Communication with Customers
How are you communicating with your customers? Do you make an effort to reach out to them? Do you simply say hello, or do you have a little chat when someone stops in the store? We all know that the best customer is someone who’s already purchased something from you, but, for some reason, we have a tendency to overlook this valuable resource. Put together a 12-month Communication Calendar that outlines different ways you can keep in touch with your customer base. Ideas such as a new-product newsletter, monthly specials, contests and giveaways, clinics, and customer- and student-of-the-month recognition photos are all good ways to stay in touch. If you aren’t sure what to communicate to your customers, then ask them.
Resolution 3: Reward Loyal Customers
If you have loyal customers who repeat their purchases, you need to reward them. These customers are the core of your business. Without them, you have nothing. That means you should do everything in your power to keep your current customer base happy. For example, give your customers a 2015 Rewards Card that qualifies them for a discount off their purchase or that gives them a free guitar restring. These types of programs are a great way to build loyalty and traffic.
Resolution 4: Consider Rebranding Your Company
A rebrand is a huge step in the business world. Still, there is no better time for a rebrand than a new year. There are certain times when a rebrand is necessary. For example, if you feel that your current branding does not represent your business as it should, then you should change it.
Many people fear change, but there is no need to. If you can create a stronger brand for your business, you should always seek to do so. A rebrand doesn’t mean that you change what your company stands for; instead, it means that you change how you present your company to the world.
Start with something simple, such as revising your logo. Contact the local art school and discuss your needs with the teaching staff. Make a contest out of it and provide financial rewards for the top-placing artists. Let your customers vote on the logos on your Web site and with signage in the store.
Resolution 5: Change Your Location
They say location is everything. Although it’s easy to believe that, with the Internet, you can be everywhere in the world without ever having to move, it’s important to remember that some customers still like to deal with you on a face-to-face basis. Is your current location conducive to increasing your floor traffic? Or, are you in the same location in a neighborhood that continues to disintegrate and that keeps customers away?
While you’re at it, take a serious look at your Web site to ensure that it is easy to find products, and that it inspires repeat business and reinforces your overall brand strategy.
Resolution 6: Help Your Staff to Invest in the Business
One of the best things you can do for your business is to allow your staff to invest in the company. You can offer your staff members small shares so they can have a stake in the business. When people simply work for an employer, they usually don’t worry about whether the business is successful. They only want to get a paycheck.
When people have a stake in the business, they have a change in their mindset and feel invested in the company. That means your staff will try harder and work smarter on a daily basis, knowing they have a part to play in the success of the business…and an opportunity to benefit personally from it.
Where do you want to be by the end of 2015? If you had a crystal ball, what would your business look like at the end of the year? Don’t wait! Start planning now! Write these things down and post them on the wall in front of your computer. This is what you are working toward. When considering doing something new, you should look at your list. Will the project have a positive effect on moving your business forward? If not, then move on to something that will.
David Hall is Vice President, Sales & Marketing, for Cutting-Edge Solutions. Their eCommerce products, The Generator and Pro-Active Websites, are utilized by leading vendors and retailers within the music products industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.