What to Do After Losing a Big Customer

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It’s a lot easier and cost effective for businesses to work on retaining their customers rather than constantly seeking out new ones. But there might come a time when a major customer of yours decides that it wants to move on or when a big client has a better offer from one of your competitors and decides to pursue it. Depending on how much revenue that particular customer brought it, the decision to part ways could really rock your business. Feeling upset or frustrated when a client leaves your company is common, but it’s important to have a plan in place to move on and bounce back.

Check in with the Client

Assuming that the parting is at least somewhat amicable, it can be helpful for your company to have a post-separation check in with the client. Schedule a call with the customer to ask why it decided to move on or to work with a competitor. Although your old client is not obligated to explain its reasons for moving on, many are likely to let you know what they were unhappy about or what damaged the relationship.

Any information you get from the customer can help you in the future. For example, the client could have decided that the relationship with your company wasn’t working because it felt that you weren’t communicating with it or that the products or services you delivered weren’t what it was it expecting. In some cases, the decision to part ways might have been out of the client’s control. For example, the company might be going through a rough patch financially and is no longer able to afford working with you. The customer might be closing up shop itself and no longer needs your company’s services or products.

Connecting with the client after they have decided to move on allows you to keep the door open for future contact. For example, if you find out the customer can’t work with you anymore because of financial difficulties, you might be able to work together in the future when it is back on its feet. Additionally, learning what upset the client can help you learn to avoid making those same mistakes in with current or future clients.

Reach Out to Your Remaining Customers

Although the client you lost might have represented a significant portion of your company’s revenues, ideally they weren’t your only customer. Take some time to check in with your remaining clients to find out if there is something your company could do better, what aspects of your product or service they are happy with, and just to take a general temperature with your clients. Losing one client can be a big enough shock to your business. You don’t want to have several jump ship all at once or one right after the other.

Focus on Pitching New Clients

Being dumped by one client can be a great reminder that companies need to focus on growing business and landing new clients all the time. A large customer might have taken up a considerable amount of your company’s time and resources. Remember that you need to consistently make the time and energy to focus on marketing and reaching out to a new customer base or on trying to expand your current customer base.

Have a Back Up Plan in Place

It can be helpful to have an emergency plan in place just in case your company does suffer a set back after losing a big customer. Even if you throw your all into keeping remaining clients happy and finding new customers, it can still take several months for a business to recover financially from the loss of a major source of income. Your back up plan can involve taking a salary reduction yourself, temporarily laying off certain employees or having a system for cutting expenses and spending until your company has bounced back.

Developing and maintaining strong client relationships is one of the things New Direction Capital values most. To learn more about how you can strengthen existing client-company relationships and build new ones, contact us today.

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Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.netGetting debt financing or a loan for your company isn’t as easy as it might seem. Banks and lenders want to have some proof or reassurance that you’ll be able to pay back what you’ve borrowed, before they will lend you the money. Although it is possible for even a qualified and prepared company to get turned down for a loan, there are several steps you can take to increase your business’ chances of getting the financing it needs to grow.

Allow Time for the Process

The process of getting a business loan might take considerably longer that you expect. If you need money or cash within a week or a few days, that might not be enough time for a lender to review your loan application, approve it, and issue you the funds.

Allowing enough time for the loan application and approval process also means developing a clear understanding of whether debt financing is the right option for your comany at the moment. If your business regularly finds itself in need of cash, for instance, it might make more sense to re-evaluate your budget or find ways to improve cash flow, instead of taking out a loan.

Have Your Financial Details in Order

Banks and lenders offer the best interest rates and loan terms to people with the best credit scores. Depending on how long your business has been operating, a lender might look at your own credit score when deciding whether or not to lend to your company. If your score is below 680 or so, it is worth the effort to bring it up before you apply for a loan for your company. Your repayment history plays a big role in determining your credit score. If you have a history of missed or very late payments, making a concerted effort to always pay on time will help improve your personal score and the likelihood of your business being offered a loan.

Along with focusing on your own credit score or the credit score of your company, it is important to have plenty of documentation to offer a bank to show that your company has steady earnings, that it’s repaid any past loans as agreed, and that it has some type of collateral to offer.

Know How You’ll Use the Loan Money

A lender isn’t going to give a business financing “Just in case.” Before you start the loan application process or begin to shop for financing, be sure of the reasons why your company wants the money and provide the bank or lender with a specific plan. For example, your business might want to use financing to purchase more inventory so that you can boost the amount of products you make or sell. Another feasible use of the funds might be open a new warehouse or store location or to lease bigger offices.

Understand the Different Loan Options

Not all business loans are the same. Knowing the type of loan that will best help your company and having a clear reason and understanding of why that loan is the best option will improve the likelihood of a bank approving your loan application. For example, a business line of credit is a type of loan that allows you to borrow the amount you need, then repay it and borrow more if necessary. It is similar to a credit card, but typically has lower interest rates.

In the case of an installment loan, your company receives a lump sum amount which you repay on a set schedule. Once the entire amount is repaid, you don’t have the option of borrowing more, unless you apply for an additional loan.

Have a Plan for Repayment

Having a clear, well though out plan for repaying your company’s loan is likely to improve your chances of getting approved. Have some sort of collateral or cash reserves that you can tap in case business is slow or your revenues aren’t what you expected can help put a lender’s mind at ease and can signal to a bank that your business isn’t likely to default on the loan.

A business loan should help position your company for success. Working with a virtual CFO can help your business prepare for the loan application process and increase its chances for approval. The team at New Direction Capital is here to help your company grow and reach its financial goals. Contact us today to learn more.

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.netNo two employees are exactly alike. Yet, for years, conventional workplace wisdom argued that everyone should come in at one time of day and leave at another. Today, the workplace looks a lot different. Many jobs can be performed on a more flexible schedule, allowing employees to work at home at some times or to adjust the amount of time they spend in the office based on the other commitments and demands in their lives.

While it might seem as though encouraging flexibility in the workplace will lead to a drop in employee productivity, the opposite is usually true. Several studies have found that employees who are given the opportunity to work from home or more control over their hours are generally happier on the job and more likely to get work done. Whether you are transitioning away from a traditional 9 to 5 model or simply want to give your employees more breathing to increase their on-the-job satisfaction, there are a few ways you can make your workplace more flexible.

Open Up Scheduling

Some people enjoy waking up early in the morning, accomplishing all they need to accomplish, and wrapping up their day by 4pm. Others are better suited to later hours while still others might benefit from a split schedule that allows them to work in the office in the morning, then pick up their kids at school and finish out the rest of their day working from home.

While an open and flexible schedule won’t always for work for every industry, it can work in many companies. As long as everyone is on the same page and as an idea of who will be in office and when, or who will be working at home and when, your company should be able to easily transition to a more flexible and open schedule.

Re-Consider Benefits

While the traditional benefits such as health insurance and an employee-sponsored retirement plan are appreciated by many employees, there are a few additional perks or benefits you might consider offering to improve your employee’s work-life balance or to make your company’s workplace more flexible. One option might be to offer daycare in the same building, for a reduced cost. Another might be to encourage employees to get involved in their communities by allowing them paid time off for volunteering or other service projects. The time off would be in addition to regular vacation or personal days. Some companies also offer perks such as paid workout time or paid continuing education.

It might seem counter-intuitive to give your employees time to work on another projects or to hit the gym. But being more flexible when it comes to work-life balance will pay off for your business in the long run. For example, if your employees are encouraged to go to the gym, they are likely to be healthier, which can mean fewer sick days taken. Becoming known as the company that encourages volunteer projects can also do a lot when it comes to increasing people’s perceptions of your company.

Provide Some Feedback and Training

Transitioning from a workplace where everyone is in the office at the same time every day to one where some people work remotely or some people work opposite schedules will require some period of adjustment. Providing your team with training and feedback as you work through the transition can help make it a smoother one for all involved. For example, you might consider offering a tutorial on how to use tools such as Skype or Slack to help employees stay connected to each other when they aren’t in the same building. You might also consider offering time management training to employees who might not be used to working independently.

Part of being a flexible workplace is learning to adapt and adjust as needed. Although many employees are more productive working on their own schedule or from home, just as many fare better under the traditional confines of 9 to 5. Alternatively, it might turn out that programs you thought would benefit your employees aren’t very useful at all. Knowing what to keep and what to get rid of will help your company continue to grow and thrive.

The team at New Direction Capital is here to help your company on its path towards growth. To learn more about the virtual chief financial officer services we offer, contact us today.

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Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at FreeDigitalPhotos.netAs a business owner, you’re well aware of the importance of continued growth, both in terms of your professional life and in terms of your business. But it’s not only owners and managers who should be striving to continue to grow and develop over time. It’s also important that you encourage that same growth and development in your team members.

You might be concerned that encouraging your employees to grow will cause them to one day get too big for the nest and to fly off to greener, more enriching pastures. That’s not necessarily true. The more your employees grow, the better able they’ll be to take on managerial and leadership roles in your company. And, the more likely your team will be to steer your company onto the path to growth. If you don’t already have a plan for employee growth and development in place, here are a few ways to create one.

Have Managers and Leaders Serve as Guides

Who better to help your team grow than the people who are already in a position of leadership at your company? While you don’t necessarily need to start a management training program, developing a mentorship program, where employees work one on one with a manager or other leader, can help less experienced or newer employees hone their own leadership abilities. By mentoring another employee, a manager can quickly see what that employee’s strengths are and what his or her weaknesses are, and help him or her work on improving the weaknesses and making the strengths even better.

Additionally, a mentor can provide guidance and support to an employee in periods when he or she is questioning his or her role with your company. If you have a number of talented employees that you want to hang onto, having a mentorship program in place can be what gets them to stick around and grow with you, rather than seeking new opportunities elsewhere.

Offer Opportunities for Learning

In some professions, continuing education is a must. Doctors, nurses, and others need to take a certain number of CE courses each year to maintain their licenses. Even if continuing education isn’t a given or expected in your industry, making it a key part of your company’s culture can help everyone. Employees will feel challenged and that their needs for growth are being met. Your company will be able to leverage the skills and abilities gained by employees through continuing education programs to move on to the next phase of your growth or to scale to the next level.

Offering learning opportunities is even more important in this day and age when new skills become imperative and outdated very quickly. If your employees are keeping ahead of the curve, odds are your company will be as well.

Increase Opportunities for Networking

Networking isn’t just something that employees need to do when they are between jobs or are looking for their next opportunity. It’s also an essential skill for them to master to promote your company and to grow themselves. Being comfortable enough to reach out to others in your field or to potential clients is an important skill for any employee to have. It can mean the difference between your company landing a huge client and being able to increase its revenues or your company treading water for years to come.

Encourage Employees to See the Company as Their Own

You don’t have to give each employee an ownership stake in your business, but encouraging them to have a can-do attitude and a spirit of ownership can really help them when it comes to their desire to see the business grow and succeed. People are more likely to want to support things that support them. If you’re constantly working to help your employees improve and move up the career ladder, they are likely to return the favor and help your business scale.

With your team on your side, it’s easier to work towards achieving your goals for your company.  If you need more assistance putting together a map for growth and business success, the team at New Direction Capital can help. Contact us today to learn more.

 

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Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.netBusinesses need to keep on evolving. If your company doesn’t grow and change with the times, it’s likely to get left behind or forgotten as competitors around it adapt to the ever-changing market and the ever-changing needs of customers. One way to help your company grow is to work to stay a step ahead of your competitors at all times. That not only means paying attention to what’s going on around you, but also learning to interpret data and information so that you can put it to good work for your business.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Complacency has been called the “silent business killer.” When things are going really well for your company, it’s all too easy to sit back and enjoy the steady flow of business and profits. But you can’t afford to rest on your laurels and not pay attention to what is going on with businesses and competitors around you.

There are a number of cautionary tales out there that warn of what can happen if a business doesn’t keep its eyes open to what’s going on or becomes so sure of its success that it stagnates. For example, at one point, MySpace was the popular social network and Blackberry was the smartphone of choice. But, MySpace was quickly dispatched by Facebook and Blackberry has been largely replaced by iPhones and Android devices.

Knowing who your competitors are and what they are up to is essential for staying in front of them. Even if your business is in the lead at the moment, it’s always possible for another company to come up with a great idea and quickly push ahead. You don’t have to have spies or connections at your competitors to keep up with them. Press releases and news stories specific to your industry can help you keep up with what’s going on, so that your company isn’t pushed into second or third place by a surprise move. Social media and company websites are also helpful tools for keeping up with the competition.

Anticipate Their Next Move

Anticipating your competitor’s next move, and then beating them to it, can help you stay at the top of the pack.  Alternatively, looking at what has worked for your competitors, then adapting those ideas for your own business, might also help you get ahead.

One company that has been able to successfully anticipate the moves of its competitor is Airbus, an airplane manufacturer. A combination of a lower cost to produce its planes and a weakened Euro have put Airbus slightly ahead of Boeing in the airplane production race. Boeing announced plans to cut costs by using more automaton and cutting jobs at its plants. To keep ahead of Boeing, Airbus announced that it would be introducing a new plane, the A330neo, specifically designed to compete against Boeing’s Dreamliner. The move paid off, and Airbus finished 2016 with a few hundred more orders than Boeing.

Know Your Audience

You don’t only want to anticipate the moves of your competitors. To stay ahead, you need to anticipate the needs of your audience. One way to figure out what your customers want and need is to ask them. Find out if there are any service or product gaps in their lives, then develop ways for your business to fill those gaps. If there are any openings, and your company isn’t working on filling them, odds are that a competitor is out there coming up with a plan to fill in the gap.

Take the discount airline industry, for example. Standard airlines long ignored budget customers, people who would prefer to pay less for their ticket in exchange for a “no frills” flight. That gave airlines like Spirit and Frontier a chance to conquer that market. More recently, the big three American airlines have announced basic or budget economy seats, trying to take some of the market claimed by budget carriers. Had the big airlines seen that gap in the first place, the low-cost carriers wouldn’t have been able to get a foothold in the market.

Having a plan for growth will not only help your company stay at the head of the pack. It will also help your business achieve its goals. The team at New Direction Capital can help you put together a map for growth and business success. Contact us today to learn more.

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