The most dangerous number in business is?

Like most people last week, I was upset to see the demise of the airline Flybe and the impact this will have on their employees and the UK economy. As a note, I had a flight booked with them in June where I was delivering a course in Cornwall.

I watched the news and listened to various stories on how it will affect the local economies of towns in the UK.

The worst will be the South West, places such as Cornwall who rely heavily on the airport for business and for people visiting Cornwall for holidays.

I also heard horror stories from local businesses, from shops to the taxi driver, of the devastating impact this will have on their livelihood.
One driver stated that 95% of his income came from Southampton Airport. Overnight his livelihood has disappeared.

On top of that, some airports had a big percentage of their business with just Flybe and again overnight, they could go out of business unless other airlines take up the slack.  It really brought home to me that the most dangerous number in business is the number one.

So, what do I mean by this? One of the gurus I follow is an American marketeer called Dan Kennedy. Dan is a very famous author and speaker and all his books are a must read if you own your own business.  I have read all his books and often buy them as gifts to my own clients, I am a big fan. Dan describes the most dangerous number when you rely on one of anything in your business. For example, one customer, one form of marketing to attract new clients, or maybe you rely on one major employee and if that person were to go, then it could have a serious impact on your business.

Let me give you an example for my business. A few years ago, I only delivered one course that was my Two-Day Ethical Sales & Communication Programme. Once people went through that programme, then that was it.

If you fast forward today, as a business, I have three other instructors and we still deliver the Two day Ethical Sales Course, we also deliver the following courses and programmes,  Advanced Master Class, a Reception, Speaking and Confidence, High Impact Presentation, Practice Managers Club, Entrepreneurs Club and In House Programme where we go into Practices and will design a course for them. So today, although our most popular course is still the Two-Day Ethical Sales and Communication Programme, we don’t rely so heavily on that course anymore.

In our business, we don’t rely on one way of attracting new clients, if you were to add up all the ways we use to market our business, it would be around 18 different methods, varying from all aspects of social media to actually still sending content out in the post. As a side issue, post still works and gives us a sound return on our investment. I always suggest to my clients that you should use post, it still works.

So, what lessons can you take from the unfortunate demise of Flybe?

Let’s look at some examples. How many different methods of marketing do your base use to attract new patients?

Let’s say you rely just on PPC, or SEO and Google decided to change the rules, you could be in trouble. I know this has happened several times over the years, often with very little warning.

If you are a Referral Practice, do you rely on one or two big referrers to give you your new patients? if so then you might need to expand your base. What would happen to your business if this Practice stopped referring overnight?

If you are an NHS Practice, do you offer private treatments to your patients, or is most of your income with the NHS? Although the NHS provide you with thousands of patients, you only have one customer, which of course is the NHS, if they make any wholesale changes to their contracts, then you might be in a precarious situation.

Last year, many of my Orthodontic Clients lost their NHS Contracts overnight and most of my work was helping them to grow their private income. Overnight, they lost their biggest client.  Some of these Practices had a contract for over 25 years, overnight it had disappeared.

Maybe you rely on one extremely good employee?  I know of one Practice who has an incredible employee, a brilliant Treatment Co-Ordinator, however if anything was to happen to her, the Practice would be in trouble.

I urge you to take a step back and investigate your Practice and see if you rely on one of anything, if you do then I strongly suggest that you act immediately. If you market for new clients, expand the methods that you use. If you are an NHS Practice, upsell Private work and grow it, don’t just rely on one customer. Taking time to do this exercise, might be the most rewarding time you spend this year.

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