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COMMENT AND OPINION | Paul Crow


PAUL CROW OPINION


The Ripples MD sets out key objectives for the business over the next 12 months and looks back on a successful outcome to the charity bike ride he organised in 2019 to help a school sanitation project in India


My to do list for 2020… E


verything about the 2020 numbers on the front page of my new diary tells me that clarity needs to be everything when setting


objectives for the year.


We identify how and where the business could earn more money. We are really poor at selling accessories almost to the point where we stopped talking about them. We need to fix that


I honestly don’t know if I go about this as others do, nor whether this is the best way possible, but I have a very simple approach to planning the objectives for the year for both my private and business life. And I see both as critical to each other.


In my private life, I simply write down what I could do during the year that would help my wealth, health, family, education and leisure. Sounds a bit nerdy perhaps, but I review each subject and break it down into a detailed set of areas. This year, for example, I’m getting more focused on a plant-based diet than ever before. I approach it very much the same way at work and it starts with a review of how we performed against previous years’ objectives. Because it’s business, I tend to be quite harsh on this and the team have to pull me back and remind me of context just a little. We also look at problems, things we wish didn’t happen and try with a clear head to review them objectively, so that we can build the benefit of this into our objectives for the following year.


For education, we look outside the classroom and identify companies that are doing well and study them. One of my favourite questions to ask a supplier is ‘what are other customers of yours doing that you think we should be doing’. For wealth objectives, we identify how and where the business could earn more money. We drill down the average order values, by salesperson, by showroom, look at conversion rates, amount quoted, product categories sold and look for gaps. There are always gaps. For example, we identified we are really poor at selling accessories, almost to the point where we stopped talking about them. In 2019, we ran an accessory promotion to renew focus and it fell flat on its backside. We need to fix that. We have grown our social media audience and recently


Mission accomplished


In January 2018, I wrote how great it would be if the KBB industry could come together to raise money for the charity Sanitation First.


This month, I received a phone call from its founder Andy Barr to tell me that the project to build the toilet block at the Oasis Trust and School for Special Children in Cuddalore, India, was complete. Currently, there are 120 mixed- ability children that are back in school full-time with their carers and


22


teachers, because 20 people from the industry rode their bicycles from London to Paris.


I’m proud of that and I know the other riders, the support crew and the many sponsors are too.


In 2021, I will, if continually persuaded, organise a similar ride from London to Amsterdam. Same charity, new project, a new destination and hopefully the same outcome. If you are semi-interested, take a at www.londontoamsterdam.


look wordpress.com kbbreview · January 2020


won an award for the work we did with it. That was nice, but it wasn’t a specific objective and won’t be again. We have already set out our marketing schedule on a month-by- month basis and will include a few new things this year, too. For fun and leisure, we look at how we can add more


group events to the calendar, whether it’s a factory trip, a night out with a supplier or our franchise conference dinner – or hopefully even a showroom opening party. This year, we are focusing a lot on culture. We have a


good team of people in place and we know that having the right culture will give us greater results. I’m not sure we have got that right everywhere at the moment. It was on the agenda at our conference and we will be following that up with the whole team to seek their ideas to develop it from within moving forward. We also know we need to get smarter with our systems, so that we can get to the point of presentation quicker, without compromising the after-sales service we can provide. IT was a previous industry for me and we are a long way from where we need to be and, to be honest, I’m frustrated with myself that I haven’t made more progress in this area. We are, though, I am rightly reminded, much closer to where we should be.


Above all, we need to increase sales. We can do that by paying better attention to our customers, getting things done quicker and by caring when we don’t hit our sales targets. We can also do that by opening new showrooms and while I won’t go on about that too much here, we get more sales enquiries than we can geographically sensibly look after and it’s frustrating not seeing these converted into actual sales.


Among the modern-day textbooks, podcasts and columnists like me that go on about theory, methods and cultures, the reality is that sales pay the bills. Always have done and always will. And that if we want to get our things- to-do list done, we have to quite simply do them. Hopefully, with a bit of luck along the way.


Oasis Trust and School for Special Children, Cuddalore, India


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