Had a fantastic week this week talking to a couple of clients.

First, The Riverside Restaurant in Barnard Castle have now officially grown to twice their original sales, with profits to match!  When I said to Andrew what had made the biggest impact, he said no single thing, but a combination of lots of changes each building on the other to create a whole new level of business.

Secondly, I spent the day yesterday with a new client, Gill’s Cruises in Baker Street, London.  A Cardiff based holiday sales company that specialises in cruises, they have grown at an astonishing rate, doubling their total sales revenues over the last 12 months (yes, that’s right, a travel agent that’s doubled in a recession).  What makes this extra special is their size – they’ve added 70 or more staff in just 18 months, all in sales.

So what can we learn from this mix of a small restaurant that’s doubled and a big holiday company that’s doubled?  Here’s my take…

  1. Vision, confidence and self-belief.  The owners of both businesses (Andrew Rowbotham and Alistair Gill respectively) have a phenomenal level of self belief and the conviction that they will succeed.
  2. Taking decisive action.  Both have put into practice the key things they know about business and thrived as a result.  Ideas and innovation are no good unless you put them into practice.
  3. Build A Strong Marketing Funnel.  Both businesses generate lots of enquiries via a range of different marketing methods.  This source of new leads is the lifeblood of the business.
  4. Keep a database of customers.  While in completely different lines of work, they have both built a database of customers and keep in touch with them regularly.
  5. Attentive customer service.  Without looking after your customers, you can’t keep them.  Both these firms experience high levels of customer satisfaction and therefore have lots of repeat sales.
  6. Great staff.  Hire slow, fire fast and don’t tolerate incompetence or poor quality staff.  Demand the best from your people every day – the best people enjoy working to the highest standards and will produce top quality service for your customers.
  7. Control.  Great financial control and metrics to cover every aspect of your business are crucial to success.  Which sales people are making you money, who is losing you money, which marketing strategies are working, which are just a cash sump?
  8. Stretch yourself.  No matter what you’ve already achieved and what you already know, if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone you’ll keep repeating the same levels of success forever.  Have the courage to face your fears head on and do it anyway.

So in the past year, with all the depressing talk of recession, that’s two great businesses that have doubled in size.

What else do you think makes the difference for businesses that grow so successfully?