What Are ‘Breaking Points’ & Are They The Key to Business Growth?
My kids attend a catholic school and this year the school leased a small room at the exterior of the church to some cool locals who have put in a coffee shop.
It’s done well with the most important element, good coffee. It has a niche audience and constant traffic. The tables and chairs are a mixture of tables with seating and a laid back lounge if you feel like relaxing a little more.
As a start up, they have gone out of their way to over deliver. They’ve introduced themselves. Got to know people by name. Added menu items like lunches, muffins and banana bread (like every good cafe should!).
But like all businesses, they have a breaking point. And this morning, the cracks showed!
Breaking points are that point where things begin to fall apart. When customers experience deteriorate.
For some businesses, the product quality is lowered under mass production. Distribution could be the breaking point for some businesses who haven’t allowed the margin to deal with terms from major players. The manufacturer who has no margin for a distributor who wants 70% with 180 day sale or return terms to get you into Walmart or Kmart. Didn’t allow for it? Oh well, can’t go National.
The business that wants a great online presence yet they have no content strategy and still think social media is for teenagers.
All of these things are what I call “Breaking Points”.
Breaking points don’t mean the business is dead or dying. It is simple a point in the business where things begin to break down. Recognising these and fixing them is one of the major keys to growth. Unless you can overcome these breaking points, you may be limited in your growth forever.
The cool local business is forced to stay local because expansion of staff, distribution etc may not be possible due to the simple economics of their pricing and buying model. This may be fine for some business owners, but if they are going home exhausted and complaining, or can’t meet their tax obligations there is likely a “Breaking Point” being overlooked.
This little coffee shop sits behind a cut out window where they serve people. They take your order and you go sit down, while the 2 staff operation make your coffee and then deliver it to your table. It’s nice customer service. Service I have come to enjoy and get used to.
But this morning, something happened… What was it?
They got busy.
Parents at the school are enjoying the little cafe experience. It’s easy to hang after dropping the kids and grab a quick coffee before heading off to work.
But this busyness jeopardised their customer service this morning. Instead of the usual table service, they began calling out table numbers so you could come and collect your own coffee. Not being used to hearing this of course, my coffee was sitting for a while (you get where this is going).
The first mental pictures that flashed through my mind when I finally heard “Table 10” being shouted over the peaceful ambience I was used to, were that of a cheap fish and chip shop yelling out orders.
It appears the breaking point of this business is 15+ customers at once. Whilst it may not jeopardise the existence of their business, it has jeopardised their quality. The experience changed today.
What Do You Do When You Find a Breaking Point?
Now they are faced with the inevitable decision all businesses must face, trying to change customers expectations or find a way to deliver the same experience and same quality as they grow.
They may not have even noticed it, but you should! This happens in business every day. It happens at all levels too. Admin, marketing, sales, delivery, installation and fulfilment. There are breaking points everywhere. And with a world that possesses an open channel to communicate these experiences, aka “Social Media”, businesses need to increase their awareness of these breaking points and address them as quick as they can.
For the little cafe, it may not be an issue. Customers might not care. Some might not even notice. But as a loyal fan and supporter from the day they opened, I noticed!
Every bit of customer feedback you receive should be welcomed with a red carpet straight to the door of improvement with the power and intention to implement positive change.
Small business owners often complain and get offended by such feedback. Maybe that’s why they stay small. But if you recognise it for what it is and fix it, you have a golden opportunity to grow.
Grain of Salt or Heart of Growth?
Keep in mind, customers are NOT always right. You need to evaluate the feedback you receive based on the expectations and service offering you have promised as part of your marketing and sales processes.
If you put a cute little free gift inside your boxes when you start shipping your custom print shirts to the door, keep doing it. Because if you consistently do something for any period of time, customers will expect it forever as the standard of service and a subconscious reason why they do business with you in the first place.
Inconsistencies are breaking points. Changing the game and changing the rules are potential breaking points. They can also be the game changing moves required to go to the next level.
Facebook’s distribution of posts and monetising of promoted posts is an interesting example of changing the game. It’s annoying and offending some people for sure. It’s losing some people who are deleting their accounts, while some haven’t noticed or don’t care. But you can bet Facebook are watching the numbers.
Savvy marketers will see the opportunity in what Facebook is doing. Because any business that seeks to commercialise or monetise an area previously available for free, is looking for advertising dollars and will open the door to reach for those prepared to spend. The principles of good conversion, copywriting and marketing will always be a high impact area of business whether online or a little coffee shop at your local school.
Breaking points are everywhere. As customers, you and I are on the wrong end of them more than we care to remember. As a business owner, CEO or Executive Manager, we cannot afford to ignore them.
Love to hear your thoughts on Breaking Points, Bottlenecks and Things That Hold Businesses Back (hmmm… Sounds like a good title for a book!)
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