Focus and Growth.

April 1, 2010

March 2, 2010 – Wall Street Journal

I love reading about folks who do things differently and enjoy great results.   Rag and Bone Bindery grew 27% in 2008 when they cut staff, fired their 35 independent sales reps and let their smaller customers fall to the wayside.

How – FOCUS.   Doing fewer things better, selling less products and fewer customers deeper.   They controlled their relationship with their customers.  The promoted their products, probably provided better merchandising and made a better impact at retail. 

But what a risk.   Can you imagine giving up those shops who order $200/year?   Okay, $200 might not seem like much but in the gift business it probably represents 1/3 of your customers.   And the whole industry is built on stores and sales agents who won’t commit to your product.   That’s what gives the industry such a aura of mystery;  We hire these reps - they sell to stores - we get sales - things go great – and then they don’t – any we’re not sure why about that either. 

I can think of three other businesses off-hand who grew with focus and by taking control of their destiny.   There are likely some others out there – but not enough.

Jeff Sands is a Director with Dorset Partners LLC, a business revitalization firm that helps companies quickly move from red to black.