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And here it is—2005! The holidays are over and if you are like the majority of people, you haven’t quite managed to shake the hectic times around the end of the year, nor gotten around to setting clear business objectives for 2005. Most businesses are feeling a little frayed at this time of the year. Yet this is the time to make powerful business New Year’s Resolutions that will help you avoid losing perspective on the progress you have made in 2004, as well as help you identify the right moves that would lead you further down the right track.
I’m sure this is nothing new to you. According to a 2001 General Nutrition Centers survey, 88 percent of Americans make a New Year’s Resolution. Although most personal goals are often related to health or fitness, the beginning of January is the time when businesses reevaluate long- and short-term goals. However, businesses often overlook some key elements when making their business plans and resolutions.
While most people will sit down at the beginning of January and write a comprehensive business plan that describes their mission and the specifics of how they will achieve it, there are certain steps you could take to make your plans easier to achieve.
Make business planning a regular process. Once a year is simply not enough. If you want to run a successful business, you must set aside time to review, adjust or set new directions. This will help you stay on track, and maybe even help you avoid costly mistakes, not to mention the stress level of planning your business will go way down.
Join a trade association. If you are not a member of one, there is no better time to get involved. Associations are an excellent source for training and education, not to mention a perfect way to stay industry-connected and exchange experiences and ideas with other professionals.
Update your website. You website needs to be updated at least every six months. It is the “face” your clients see when they need information. A poorly organized site, one that is difficult to navigate and doesn’t offer the services your customers need is probably worse than not having a website at all.
It must feature current contact information (not a phone number or e-mail address of someone who is no longer with the company). Your site is the best customer service tool, it is there for your customers when you can’t be. Even your best rep doesn’t have all the time in the world to devote to every client. Make sure you use a website to its fullest potential.
Deliver consistent customer service. A lot of businesses take pride in offering excellent customer service. But is it consistent? Your customers must believe that they are valued at all times. Small glitches happen, but at the end of the day, your customers must feel that they come first, always.
Ask customers for feedback. This goes hand-in-hand with Step Four above. Request that they tell you what they liked and disliked, what they would like to change and how they were treated. This is one of the best ways to find out whether you are on the right track or straying.
Evaluate your promotional approach. Whether you are advertising or relying on word-of-mouth, you must review your promotional strategies. Are they working? Do you get a return on your investment? The goal here is to think about effectiveness, not price. Make sure it does the job.
There are many more steps you could take to ensure that you accomplish this year’s resolutions, but don’t forget to make time for yourself. It will help you stay focused and determined to reach your goals.
Lastly, I hope you enjoy Water Quality Products’ new look. After nearly a decade, we have come a long way, and couldn’t have done it without your support. From all of us at WQP, Happy New Year!