Saturday, September 29, 2012

Working Smarter: Expand Your Business Offer

The company who sold me my caravan had apparently sold 157 caravans at the time I had picked up mine. Given that they are worth somewhere between $50 to $70 thousand dollars a piece, that's a handsome amount in anyone's language. And the year is yet to run for another three months.

While I did my homework and found that the design and manufacture of the caravan I had selected was robust, I was surprised by what seemed to me the amateurish front end of the business ie, the sales and administration process.

Obviously the owners are happy with the way things are, but they could be doing better with just a small adjustment to their processes. Here are some things I would recommend to them:

Keep in touch after the order is placed

Obtain purchasers' email address and every few weeks send them an update on how the production of their caravan is progressing. Send some photos of a caravan at the stage of construction eg, "the frame for your caravan has been produced and here is a photo so you can see how strong and well made your caravan frame is."

This could be handled by an autoresponder if necessary, provided the period when the construction progresses is the same as that used in the autoresponder. That is, you don't send a message telling customers that the walls are being built, if they aren't.

This will provide benefits to the business by being seen as having a sound customer service focus; people will send copies of their caravan photos to family and friends thus spreading the good word about the brand.

Upsell available products

When the caravan employee hooked up my vehicle to the caravan he asked me where I had bought the over-rider (weight distribution) kit and how much I had paid. When I told him where and for how much I had bought them, he told me I could have got them there $100 cheaper.

Had I known I could save $100 I would have bought them from the caravan company. If customers were advised at the time of order about the associated equipment available, perhaps the company would sell more.

Every one of the outgoing emails could have included details of products that are available in addition to the caravans. Wouldn't that make good business sense?

Follow-up after delivery

If I was running the company, I would send a follow-up email about two or three weeks after delivery of the caravan and ask customers to tell me about their experience using it and what they think of it. I would ask them to send a photo of themselves with their caravan and a short blurb about where they were and what they were doing. These photos would go into a sales catalogue and a few selected copies would go on my Internet site.

By getting feedback it's possible to identify things that might need improving in later models of the caravans. If everyone is content, that's good to know also.

Conclusion

Business outcomes can often be substantially improved with relatively little effort and expenditure. Is there something you could tweak in your business model that would optimize sales?

Robin

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