Great expectations Featured

12:25pm EDT June 22, 2004
Last month, I discussed the importance of understanding whether your company is event- or anniversary-driven, and how that plays into your management style and ability to sell to customers and grow your business. This month, the focus is anniversary-driven businesses.

You are an anniversary-driven business when your customers buy around a predictable, recurring date. The sale goes to the company that knows which customers will buy on a given date.

To grow your anniversary-driven business, know the exact date, and where and how the decision-maker will recommit. If you are selling building maintenance contracts, know when the contract expires, if the renewal decision is made by corporate or at the location, and whether it's by bid or negotiation. If you are selling to specialty retailers, understand when their customers commit, which department buys your products and what it takes to displace the current provider.

Know the client's expectations, sequence for re-engagement or disengagement, and trigger events that lead to repurchase. To take business away from another on-demand courier service, understand what its response times are, if it will try a new vendor on "problem routes" before giving it its "milk runs," and which problems will get its vendor replaced.

If your customers are anniversary-driven, be extra responsive to customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction around their commitment date. Don't sell to them during the rest of the year. Instead, confirm if and how their expectations are being met. Understand your competitors' mistakes and their customers' reactions.

The fact that most businesses are anniversary- or event-driven is obvious, and knowing which business you are in is just a start. How well does your company conform to one or the other?

Think of how well we respond to signals for anniversary- and event-driven activities. From renting a tuxedo for a friend's wedding to renewing our driver's licenses, we are all ingrained in how to handle these events and anniversaries.

Finally, ask yourself how well you have ingrained your customers in doing business with you. Taking full advantage of all the tricks in your trade will maximize your results, investment and returns. Andrew J. Birol (abirol@andybirol.com) is president of Birol Growth Consulting. He helps owners grow their businesses by growing their best and highest use. Reach him at (440) 349-1970 or www.andybirol.com.