Many people believe that growing a business is extremely hard and it takes some sort of super power to achieve business success.
But actually there are four ways to grow a business and none of them are rocket science.
- Acquire more customers
- Get your customers to buy more from you
- Get your customers to buy more often
- Retain your customers so they don’t buy from a competitor
That’s really all it comes down to. But as the saying goes “the devil’s in the details”.
In 2001, I went through extensive training with a nationwide consulting firm that dove into the details of those four simple actions. In each area we studied multiple specific strategies that could be used to achieve growth.
Returning to my office in Michigan I began my consulting practice and started applying the strategies to my clients’ businesses.
The initial results were mediocre but as I honed my skills and started looking beyond what my client said and more at what was really going on in the business results improved significantly.
I helped a janitorial services firm go from $3 million a year to over $6 million and a commercial pool company go from $500,000 to over $2 million.
My own business was growing like crazy and most new clients came to me as a referral from one of my existing clients.
In 2003, a client called and asked if I would meet with his buddy who owned four funeral homes. At the time, I had absolutely no interest in working with a funeral home but I agreed to the meeting out of obligation to my client.
The meeting went better than I expected and I agreed to take them on as a client. We began meeting on a regular basis, analyzing the business to determine which strategies would work for a funeral home.
My goal was simple…to help them grow their business.
But as I learned more about the funeral industry I encountered the problems that all funeral home owners deal with. The rising cremation rate, the decline in full service funerals, the eroding of customer loyalty and more.
To be honest, I didn’t know if I could help them. It seemed like an impossible task and the strategies in my toolbox were not necessary applicable to the industry’s problems.
We implemented new education-based marketing (one of the strategies in the toolbox) and it helped somewhat. We worked on the pre-need side of the business and that helped but it takes awhile for pre-need to turn into a current call.
During one of our meetings we uncovered what I believed to be the root problems. The one issue that was preventing them from winning more calls and serving more families.
That one issue was the lack of an ability to explain the value of a funeral service.
In the past, families had funerals because of tradition. But by 2003 the tides had turned. Families were less inclined to automatically follow tradition and questioned everything. They were questioning the value of a funeral because they were questioning the value of everything.
One of my core strengths lies in helping a business owner put into words the things that they struggle to articulate. It was time to use that strength.
After some intensive collaboration and many hours spent writing and rewriting content to explain the value of a service we hit upon it….a script that actually worked.
The exact, word for word script that they could use when working with a family that turned them from questioning the value to understanding the value.
That script, or narrative, became the core of all marketing. The business began to grow significantly.
But we still encountered some problems like the families who said “Dad, didn’t want a funeral”. We were trying to explain the value of something that the family was specifically told to not do.
Fortunately, I had a strategy for that problem as well. We implemented the strategy and business growth accelerated.
The net result…in 3 years we increased overall revenues at their funeral homes by 65%, our average revenues related to cremation services are up 110%, and our customer satisfaction rating is at 99.5%.
With that initial success under my belt, I decided to begin helping other funeral homes win more calls.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with firms all over the United States, Canada and even Australia. My toolbox of strategies has continue to grow as we tackle the problems associated with today’s funeral homes.
Has every project been a success? No.
The process I take people through requires change. Sometimes it is just superficial changes but many times it requires some significant changes in how they deliver funeral services.
But for clients who are willing to change the process I take the through leads to them winning more calls, serving more families and improving the bottom line profits of their funeral home business.