How Companies Adjust to Booming Business
As the saying goes, forecasting is as much an art as it is a science. When unexpected growth occurs, we rely on two things: our industry relationships and our team. Today’s production capacity may not meet tomorrow’s increased demand, so it is important for us to be aware of potential outsourced production opportunities at all times. We do this by developing long-term relationships with potential partners who can step in when additional production is needed. Equally important is the ability to be agile and responsive according to demand and customer needs. To achieve this, we cross-train our team across several areas of the business. Today, a team member might be working in the marketing department on social media; tomorrow the team member may be working with the sales team to help launch a new customer. This requires a lot of time and training, but the return in customer satisfaction is much more than the investment.
“Do we fill it up right, or do we fill it up fast?” Thirty years ago, a colleague of mine asked the group gathered to discuss how we wanted to approach the transformation of what most folks now know as one of Chattanooga’s best Class A office projects – Republic Centre. Focusing on quality over quantity in that project has paid dividends. We have tenants who have been our business partners for over 25 years, several of which have just renewed with us for another decade. On the operations side, we invest in technology and talent. We run a lean shop. My late partner and mentor, Jim Berry, is famous for his stance on always operating one person shy of the truest need. Hire smart; stay lean; focus on quality. That’s how we have grown our business without sacrificing quality.
(above) photo by Lanewood Studio
Most entrepreneurs, from the time they start their business, think about scaling and growing. Scaling is necessary to improve profits and expand your reach. However, you must be careful to not hurt your products, services, and reputation. I feel it’s important to know what you’re great at and learn to say no to other opportunities. I believe that you can produce exceptional products and services and grow at the same time. Stick to the systems and processes that deliver great results and always be looking for ways to improve. When businesses experience good growth, it’s easy to fall victim to the mindset that you can “do it all.” Grow and increase profits doing what you’re best at.
(above) photo Courtesy of Mark Gilliland
Our business model depends on the generosity of others, and we often have very little input into the types of foods they donate. Upon the staff’s recommendation, the board voted to “get better before we get bigger” – understanding that improving the quality of food would add to our annual fundraising goal, but also knowing it would provide improved health outcomes for our community. As a result, we supplement donated food with additional items we purchase to ensure a family can prepare a more balanced, nutritious meal. In 2015, the Food Bank was challenged by Feeding America to double our distribution by 2025 to meet the need in our 20-county service area. We embraced that challenge, and in fiscal year 2017, we distributed 16.3 million pounds of food, including more than 4.6 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and 28,440+ gallons of milk. That’s the equivalent of 13.7 million meals. We are audited by the USDA/FDA, AIB, Feeding America, and Mauldin & Jenkins; therefore, we track several key metrics daily such as the nutritional value of the food we’re distributing
Quality is more than a means of measure. It is both the standard and driving force behind a memorable visit. Quality extends far beyond the ingredients on the plate. From the first impression to the service, the presentation to the taste, a quality meal is the culmination of the dining experience. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by the volume of guests walking through the doors, the team stays focused on the menu. We strive to create a plate that reflects the highest standards every time it’s ordered, whether it’s 10 or 100 times an evening. Quality is our means for creating a sustainable restaurant and loyal customers. Additionally, quality is an emphasis in all aspects, both inside and outside of the restaurant. A strong business stems from having a rich, well-rounded life. Without relaxing and enjoying life outside of work, you cannot expect to have a successful business. A quality business comes from a quality life.
One of my guiding business principles throughout my career has always been quality first, before scaling, no matter what. We opened The Group with the goal of being a boutique real estate company serving a specific market to ensure we were positioned for strategic scalability. We set the foundation for successful growth by creating digital workflow processes, establishing a hands-on office environment, and hiring the most talented staff to support our agents in a truly personal, connected way. A quality foundation sets the stage for delivering high-caliber customer service and products. In the real estate industry, many companies’ success metric is high agent count and high volume, which can compromise quality. Our success metric is much more centered on facilitating individual agent growth, focusing on specific market segments, and connecting the agent directly with the client. Success isn’t always measured by size. The quality of the product portfolio, coupled with the most knowledgeable agents and staff, can also reap great success.