The Long View: When Good Isn’t Good Enough

“Sales are good!”

Yes, that’s music to any shop owner’s ears, but as we start to dig into the new year in earnest, is “good” really going to be good enough? And, no, I’m not looking for a better modifier such as “great” or “fantastic.”

Okay, you say you’re able to consistently make payroll and you’re not losing costumers, but is that enough? Is that really what you’re after? I believe that shop owners who are worth their salt want more than that. You can’t settle for good when what you want is tangible progress, a strong brand and growing profits.

If you’re looking to grow rather than merely survive you’ve got to do more, and you’ve got to do it better than your competition. You’ve got to have a plan, and sometimes you have to be able to take calculated risks. The worst thing you can do when your business is not threatened and sales are “good” is to become complacent. Complacency puts a damper on innovation and only serves the status quo. The good news here is that competitors have a habit of keeping you on your toes.

So, can you break the good-is-good-enough mind set? Well, as the leader of your organization, it’s up to you to become the impetus, the inspiration and the catalyst for change. Some ideas on making that happen?

Think about ways to create a more unique value proposition for your customers, and then clearly define that added value and get the word out about it. That could be in the form of warranted work, quicker turnaround times, guaranteed on-time delivery or any number of things (add value that your competitors don’t offer).

Exploit new industry trends by educating your clients on how a particular trend can help them (like digital signage). Start a blog where you share your stories and where you can create a dialogue with your customers. Hold contests or drawings for clients. When a mistake happens, fix it immediately (this helps to build stronger customer relationships). Know your shop’s strengths and position those strengths against the weaknesses of your competition. Make it easier for customers to do business with you than with your competition. Don’t be afraid to go after large clients. Cultivate a fun, energetic culture in your shop. The possibilities for innovation are limitless.

In a competitive industry such as ours, standing out in a crowd is no easy task-and it’s getting more difficult all the time. But the best way to get beyond “good” is to make your business unique and an attractive place to do business.

Okay, back to work.

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Matt Dixon

Matt Dixon is the former executive editor and content manager of GRAPHICS PRO magazine. Before that he served as editor of Sign & Digital Graphics and Sign Business Magazine.

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