One way small businesses in Indiana can re-open ahead of the curve

Now that we have the Gov. Eric Holcomb’s recommendations on how the state will reopen, it’s more important than ever to accelerate our behaviors as business owners to ensure that we are ahead of the curve and have a steep recovery out of this pandemic situation. 

You might have heard it said that “our behaviors over the next 60-90 days will impact our next 18-24 months.” While there’s no science to support it, I do believe it’s true given what we’ve witnessed the past several weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Founder of the Sandler Performance Center, my advice for small business owners looking to come out of the pandemic strong starts with developing a “KARE Plan.” KARE stands for Keep, Attain, Recapture, and Expand.

KARE is a classification system that we teach to all of our clients. While it is a simple concept, it is very powerful in its execution.

KARE stands for Keep, Attain, Recapture, and Expand. Now, let’s break it down.

  1. The first step in KARE is to define the “attributes” of each quadrant. 

Let’s start with Keep: What are the attributes of clients you want to keep?

Typically, these are clients who are profitable and who you have great relationships with. However, there are many more factors that are unique to your organization, so take some time to define them.

How about clients you want to Attain, Recapture, or Expand relationships with? What do each of their attributes look like?

The idea here in this first step is to assess the status of your current client relationships and reflect on them, so you have a clear image of what your ideal client looks like.

This becomes the basis of your “Ideal Client Profile,” which can be a very useful tool for your organization to keep everyone on the same page, working toward the same goals.

  1. Define the “behaviors” of each quadrant.

Defining what we do with clients is what we are seeking to document here. When you think of your top clients, the 80/20 rule (roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes) is a good place to start. What are the specific behaviors that you can do exceedingly well to produce great results?

Starting with Keep, ask: What are the critical behaviors that you do to keep your clients?

HINT: this is not a sales activity or your pat "customer service" response. We’re talking specifics. For example, in our organization, we do what we call C.E.S.A.R. meetings. These are Chief Executive Semi-Annual Review meetings with our top clients or a regular review of the business relationship to make it stronger. (We literally ask them: “How do we get fired from this relationship!”)

Looking at Attain, ask yourself: What do you need to do to attain net-new clients? This becomes the basis of your “Cookbook for Success,” or in other words, your prospecting activities to find new business.

Lastly, ask yourself: What are the behaviors that we do for clients that we want to Recapture and Expand relationships with?

  1. The last, and most important step in the process is to list the client names that you will commit to engaging with from a KARE perspective in the next 90 days.

This will ensure that you take actionable steps to put your planning to use.

Our most successful clients execute KARE strategies on a quarterly basis. Let your KARE documents become a living document for your team that helps you provide a well-rounded approach to sales and accomplish what you want to do the most: Protect current clients, expand business where we can, and find net-new opportunities. 

At the Sandler Performance Center, we’re happy to do a deeper dive with your organization and share tools to help you get started. If this is something your business could use, don’t hesitate to reach out.

This blog is part of an ongoing, weekly series in Input Fort Wayne, following local small business owners as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Read Jim's previous blog here.

Read more articles by Jim Wilcox.

Jim Wilcox is Founder of the Sandler Performance Centers of Northern Indiana in Fort Wayne and South Bend. He is one of Input Fort Wayne's small business bloggers, sharing his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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