Last night, I heard an interesting talk from Lars Wulff, CEO of Mud Bay, a very successful regional pet store retailer. Lars told us the story of how he and his sister have led the growth of their company from one store to twenty-five, with plans to add 4-5 more stores in the coming year.
I liked Lars a lot. His self-effacing demeanor and true desire to learn how to do things better gave me a lot of cues on why he has been successful.
Lars began his talk by asking the audience some questions - who owns pets?; who has ever shopped at a Mud Bay store?; who considers Mud Bay their primary pet store choice? He then asked the most important question - why?
It reminded me of Simon Sinek, author of "Start With Why", one of the best approaches to business and leadership I have ever heard. If you don't know Simon Sinek, take the time to view this explanation of how innovative companies differentiate and grow their business and how great leaders inspire action..
But back to Lars.
During his low-key, interactive presentation, he was interrupted several times with questions, and one of those questions was 'Have you considered other growth avenues beyond simply opening new stores?". His response was immediate and genuine, and led me to write this post. His response to the question was "I am planning a session with my key management team to explore ways to enhance the customer experience, and that will determine any new directions we move".
Notice that he didn't say we will "explore ways to grow the business". His response was to look for "ways to enhance the customer experience".
What a great way to approach business and growth! Every company wants to grow. How many approach growth from the customer's perspective? How many companies have made missteps because they added new services instead of customer benefits to grow their business? How many agencies have added new services or digital marketing departments or capabilities to "enhance their customer's experience" vs. just to gain more revenue?
Lars had a lot of good things to say about the importance of understanding and maintaining a consistent and strong corporate culture. And the necessity of having a differentiating benefit that would build customer loyalty.
But the real strength of his organization is his basic approach to business growth "How do we enhance the customer experience?"
In a world with so much competition and so many options, asking the right question can be the difference between success and failure. Are you asking the right questions?