There Ain’t No Magic Beans

Jack in the beanstalk. I’m sure you remember this story about the boy who traded his cow for three magic beans. When his mom threw them out the window, they grew into a giant beanstalk, which Jack climbed, found the golden goose, escaped the giant and lived happily ever after. If only we could. My last blog was about growing the business in two ways: new geographies and new products. Let’s find a way to expand the areas covered by your glass business. After all, you don’t have a golden goose.

So, our goal is to draw more customers to our business. If your name is Fitzwilliam Glass and Mirror, people who don’t live in Fitzwilliam may not think to call you. Changing your name is costly and a pain in the neck. But, working as a D/B/A (Doing Business As) is easy. Your attorny can tell you how easy it is in your state. Then, your new name can be Western New Hampshire Glass. This will bring in more phone calls asking for quotes and service calls.

Add an 800 toll-free number to your Yellow Pages ad. and more people will call. It is really not a major expense, and one or two service calls per month will pay for it.

Paint your truck with your new phone number and show a map on your truck of the area you cover. If you list every town, then the one town you forget to include will never send business.

Put your maps on your website and your Facebook page. Yes, it is time that you have one. There are many companies that will build you a simple site for a very small budget. You need the presence. You don’t have to be big and splashy, but fully half of all consumers don’t use Yellow Pages any more. 

Send out a press release to the local papers in your new areas simply saying that your company is now pleased to be serving customers here. Take a small ad in these local papers. Get people used to seeing your name.

Hold an open house for customers from your new area, giving every one who comes in a $5 gas card as a thank you. Let the potential customers see you do everything from shower doors to whatever! Volunteer as a speaker at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon in the new area. If you are not up to that, then ask your fabricator to send in an expert to speak on energy saving with glass.

Are there any architects in your new area? Call on them, and ask them to list you as an established vendor on the product specifications. This is one of the important ones.  Do you have a salesperson that calls on insurance companies? Broaden that reach!

Enough? No. Sponsor a Little League team in your new area. Attend a local Rotary or Elks Club, or any association that you might have. Ask your good customers what contacts they may have in your new area, and get their referrals. Buy an email list coverning zip codes in your new area, or just a straight mail list. Just drive through the area, have lunch every day in a different restaurant and park your truck where it can be seen. 

Ok, enough already. Good hunting.

The Fable Of Fred’s Farm Stand

On Sunday, around 4 p.m., Elaine asked me to go to one of the local farm stands to get some fresh corn for dinner. “Sure,” I said. The closest two stands were sold out; no big surprise, as it was near the end of the day. So, I went to Fred’s, and herein lies today’s blog—for Fred stopped selling corn, the most important food for a farm stand this time of year.

Here is his story:

Fred stopped selling corn about three weeks ago, because his customers were rude and he wasn’t making any money on the corn. It seemed that customers would tear down the husks on the corn, and if there was a slight blemish, they would leave the ear there. By noon each day, he had more blemished corn then sellable corn, and he was losing money. When he asked customers not to pull the husks, someone said to him that the stand down the road let them do it. He told this customer to go there to buy corn. The customer said they were too expensive, so they came to Fred’s.

Which farmstand glass shop are you? Are you doing the work that your competitors are not, but you find this to be hard, or money-losing? It is tough to stop doing a certain type of work. Revenue is down, but your rent didn’t go down. How can you possibly turn down business? 

While there is no proof, I am pretty sure 10 percent of your business revenue takes 30 percent of your labor and related costs. By losing this business, your net profit can actually go up! Look at your different revenue streams and decide which ones are profitable and which ones are not. Is it just by tradition that you keep doing something?

Is it doing late-night board-ups? Great customer service, but really expensive in labor cost. And the guys that specialize in board-up are less expensive. Maybe you are better forming an alliance with a board-up company to take care of your customers. You’ll get less revenue, but you keep the customer happy and still get the glass replacement.

But, let’s take a step back. What is going to replace this lost business? My general rule is to add 30 percent new products or geographies to your company yearly, and get rid of that 10 percent that is dragging you down. Bottom line? You should be able to gain 20 percent in revenues. Go to the glass trade shows, read USGlass, and see the new products. Ask the sales reps that come in what is new, and don’t be afraid to take on new products. That is the lifeblood of any business. Add something new and get rid of something that is dragging you down.

I’ll talk more about this next week…in the meantime, can you help me get a dozen ears of fresh corn?