Can you believe that 2016 is already almost over? I know that many of my coaching clients (including myself) are swamped with the holidays right around the corner and the last thing you’re probably thinking about is next year, let alone next week. Even though you are probably ready to take a breather and sit back and bask in all that you’ve accomplished – don’t get too comfortable!
At the end of the year, I tell my coaching clients that it is time to sit down and talk about what worked and what didn’t with their culinary business. Maybe showing up at community events this year really led to a lot of clients for them or maybe their email marketing really paid off. Now is the time to have those answers. The reason why is because if you never know how you acquired your clients then how can you keep focusing on what worked best?
For instance, after looking at all of the new clients we got in 2016 I found that the majority of our business came from referrals. This shows me that people thought highly enough of my culinary business that they thought to tell their friends about it. What does that tell me besides the fact that they liked my food? It tells me that I should make it even easier for my clients and people to spread the word in 2017 because referrals are a huge part of how I got my business this year. Maybe I need to add a social media sharing button to our emails that go out. You get the idea.
Not only should you take a look at how you were able to bring in new customers, but you should look at what might have kep customers from coming in. Maybe a certain product or service didn’t take off like you thought it would. Take a look at what the cause might be. Was your messaging not very clear? Was it hard to find it on your website? Was it poor customer service? What were any customers’ feedback on it? With the new year, comes the opportunity to come up with new, better ideas! Knowing what worked and what didn’t will help you avoid the pitfalls you made this year and allow you to problem solve and see what might work better in the long run.
So in a nutshell, here are the three things you should look at before the new year:
- Profit and Loss Statements – look at the costs of running your company and the gross income you have. Did you actually make a profit? If so, how much of a profit? Could you reduce costs to create a larger profit margin?
- Review all of your services and products – What products or services struggled? Which ones did exceptionally well? As entrepreneurs we can get attached to our “babies” and think that everything we offer is fantastic. Try to look at your offerings objectively and pick out the strengths and weakness of each one. Which service brought in the most sales? Which one brought in the least?
- Review the List of Where You Got Your Clients – I keep an Excel Sheet of how I acquired all of my clients throughout the year. I also have an electronic version of this based on the contact form that they filled out on my website as well on the Food Questionnaire that they fill out before starting personal chef services. I always ask where people heard about me and you should too! Knowing where you acquired your clients will help you focus your marketing efforts on areas that you know are working.
These are just a few things that I look at to gauge where I’m at and I hope this helps you gain a great understanding of things you can improve and focus on for next year. Don’t beat yourself up about what didn’t work, that will get you no where. Instead, focus on new possibilities and opportunities and improving what you have.
If you need someone who can listen and help you work through the obstacles in your business, I would love to be that person for you. Learn more about my culinary business coaching here.