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In their 1995 blockbuster The Discipline of Market Leaders, Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema explained how great companies dominated their markets by offering superior value propositions. Now Treacy is back with an equally groundbreaking book—revealing how great companies master growth each year and how all businesses can identify and exploit opportunities for increased revenues, gross margins, and profits. Treacy's main point is simple—it really is possible to grow your business by 10 percent or more, year after year, in good times and bad, without cheating. Great companies already know how to do it, and the rest of us can learn their strategies and do the same thing. Using case studies from industry leaders such as Dell Computer, Home Depot, and GE, he shows the five steps that are imperative to ensure growth: • Keep the growth you have already earned • Look for growth where it's likely to be found • Take business from your competitors Treacy believes that any business can grow at a consistent double-digit rate, and with Double-Digit Growth, managers and investors now have the tools to achieve that lofty goal and maintain corporate success.
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For any business, growth is like oxygen—it's essential. Growing companies thrive and attract all the best talent and resources whereas shrinking companies tend to wither and die. Smart managers understand that, and make certain their enterprises chalk up steady double-digit growth year after year irrespective of the state of the economy, the competitive pressures of the marketplace, the demands of customer and suppliers or any other considerations.
A study of 130 organizations that achieved double-digit growth year after year identified six key principles they adhered to:
They hedged their bets and spread the risk by pursuing multiple growth strategies, not just one or two.
They took small bites—and tried to achieve small gains in multiple areas rather than large gains in just one area.
They tried both organic and acquired growth strategies, and balanced these two approaches intelligently.
They were obsessive about offering customers a superior value proposition.
They created the management capacity to be able to manage growth projects without ignoring their existing business.
They put in place a corporate culture and internal processes which encouraged the achievement of growth.
So how, specifically, can a business achieve steady double-digit growth? The key factor isn't so much what industry you operate in as it is mastering and then balancing five key growth disciplines:
In short, to achieve and sustain double-digit growth is a choice every business can make. Any company, which applies the five disciplines systematically and consistently, can and will achieve sustainable growth. The choice is yours.
"Double-digit growth is not a dream but a plausible scenario. If the challenge of double-digit growth appears a bit daunting, undaunted yourself and take heart. The beauty of the five growth disciplines is that any company is capable o f carrying them out, consistent with its own particular ambitions and circumstances."
One of the easiest and most direct ways to grow is to slow the rate at which you lose existing customers. Improve your client retention rate so you have a good base to build on. If your business provides good value-for-money, it will usually be easier to retain an existing customer than it is to attract a completely new customer.
It is generally accepted that it's easier and cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to win a new customer. Yet despite that, very few businesses analyze what they have to do to retain their existing customers. In practice, there are three key principles of customer retention:
1. Shape your customer's value criteria—that is, find out why your customers chose to buy from you and give them more of what motivated them in the first place. You are better positioned to find out more about your customers than any of your competitors are. Use that inside knowledge to your advantage.
2. Increase the cost of switching to someone else—in terms of aggravation, inconvenience and direct costs. This is why many companies offer new customers better deals than their existing, loyal customers can obtain. It may seem unfair, but it helps offset the costs of switching from one supplier to another.
3. Narrow the customer's alternatives—by embedding add-ons into the product or service bundle in such a way that it becomes difficult to compare one company's offerings with that of a competitor. When this is done effectively, the number of alternatives which are considered by the customer is reduced appreciably.
Applying these principles, there are four basic tactics organizations can use to increase their customer retention rates:
1. Make your services sticky.
The objective here is to entangle customers with enough immediate added value that none of your competitors will be able to come up with an offer big enough to outweigh their switching costs. Usually, this involves adding in free services or educational programs but it may also include providing implementation expertise or other technology improvements.
For example, GE Medical Systems sells complex medical equipment. To assist clients, GE Medical helps them manage the life cycle of their equipment by providing:
Capital planning and financing.
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