Business development is a concept that many practice owners and managers understand but tend to put aside until a later date, when things are less busy. You understand how important it is but the problem is that you’re working in the business, so you struggle to find time to work on the business.
With that in mind, this a quick guide to help you conduct a business development review in just a few hours.
What Is It That You Offer Clients?
The first step is to review what services (and products) you offer clients. Questions to answer include:
- What are the core services that you provide? (try to stick to half a dozen or less)
- Do these services align with what your clients need? If you’re not sure then you should conduct a survey of all your clients to identify how you can improve their experience (see later section on clients).
- Which of these services are your most successful (client uptake & profitability)?
- What services are most attractive to prospective clients?
- What services are helping retain clients?
- What services are most cost effective to deliver?
- Are there opportunities for expansion based on your most successful services?
- Are there opportunities to cross sell services?
How Efficient Is Your Practice?
The next step is to review the factors that could be holding your practice back.
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of your current location?
- Is there room to grow or cut back if necessary?
- If you moved, would there be long term cost savings and efficiency improvement?
- How do you compare with your competition?
- What kind of experience are you offering clients?
- Does your current suite of technology systems deliver value to your practice?
- Are you paying for systems that you rarely use?
- Is there an opportunity to upskill your team on the use of these systems to get the most value from your investment, or should you consider removing them?
- Are there more efficient processes you would like to implement that you currently don’t have a solution for?
- What technologies exists in the market that you can take advantage of?
- Are there integrations you could implement to improve efficiencies?
- Do you have a training and development plan in place for your team?
- Are there opportunities to upskill your staff so you can delegate some of your workload?
- Do your staff understand what is expected of them? Are they assigned clear KPIs?
- Do you provide opportunities for them to provide feedback on ideas for business improvement?
- Are there services you’d like to offer to clients that your current staff can assist to implement? Or would you need to look at new hires?
- Do you have the right management team in place for growth?
How Are You Placed Competitively?
When prospective clients are looking for services like yours, it’s likely they’ll review multiple practices before deciding who to approach and proceed with. So, this step is about understanding your competitive positioning. This will help you understand what you need to do or say in order to win a prospect’s business. You should be able to answer most of these questions with desktop research.
- Who are your top three competitors?
- What does their team structure look like?
- What services do they offer?
- Who is their target market?
- What do they say about themselves (unique value proposition or same old same old)? Review their website, sales literature, and advertisements.
- What do other people say about them? Look for customer reviews, testimonials, social media comments, or press articles. Also ask prospective clients if they’ve dealt with them – and if so – ask them about their experience.
- What technology do they deploy to deliver their services?
Do You Know Enough About Your Clients and Market?
As part of this review, it’s critical for you to understand your clients and market. You should have covered this if you already have a marketing plan, but regularly collecting feedback from your clients will ensure you’re consistently delivering a great experience.
- What do your clients say your practice’s strengths are?
- Where do they think you could improve?
- Can you segment your client list to make communication with them more effective? Consider not only their contribution to your revenue and profitability, but also their demographics and needs.
- How can you use their feedback to improve your business performance?
- How can you use their feedback to establish trust with prospective clients via social proof?
- Are there any changes in your market that could challenge how you deliver your services (such as outcomes of the Royal Commission)?
- Are there any new or emerging trends that you should consider adopting as part of your business operations?
- What predictions can you make regarding your clients’ needs for this year, and are you in a position to meet them?
- Once you’ve answered these questions you will have a good idea of where your practice sits.
- The next step is to work on a plan that will help you put new ideas in place and set a timetable (and budget) for doing so.
- The most important piece of advice is to keep it simple and involve your team where possible. This way, the workload is shared, and everyone feels like they’re contributing to the practice’s future. You will also generate a wider range of ideas based on different perspectives.
- Adopt the mindset of continuous improvement to enhance your ability to be proactive and a market leader. Good planning helps you anticipate problems and adapt to change more quickly, easily and successfully.
Ray McHale is chief executive and co-founder of MyNextAdvice.