A case study in brand growth

What would you do to grow a flailing company?

 

The Professor of my Grow to Greatness business course challenged students  to make recommendations on how to grow a company.  The company CR Barger & Sons served as a case study in brand growth.  CR Barger & Sons is a precast concrete company with a long history in the Tennessee market. Unfortunately the company’s growth had stalled in recent years and found themselves facing a difficult decision to shut down operations or persevere.

 

Though I’ve got no experience in precast concrete, I did make the following are 36 recommendations to help revitalize the CR Barger & Sons company.  At the end of my recommendations you’ll find a link to the second part of this case study that lists the real changes CR Barger & Sons made to meet 400% growth in 4 years.   I was not aware of these results when before making my recommendations.

Manufacturing

  1. Conduct a customer audit to check any problems with the existing septic tanks
  2. Conduct interviews with staff to find out if they’ve ever had ideas on how to improve the construction of septics
  3. Meet with, and research other pre-cast concrete manufacturers (in different industries, and at tradeshows) to learn of best practices and new methods for construction.
  4. Have the staff knowledge upgraded through training
  5. Challenge conventional, inefficient, ways of manufacturing with internal design challenges
  6. Tap into the Maker Movement to see if there are new alternatives and methods for low-cost, batch-type manufacturing of new and innovative products
  7. Study Lean manufacturing

Sales

  1. Use the delivery drivers (the QBs of the team) to ask for referrals on every delivery
  2. Tell a good story (see #8 in marketing)
  3. Create a customer loyalty program for licensed installers eg. for x # units installed, installers get y % back.
  4. Set new sales metrics for the team – measure customer lifetime value, sales velocity (time a prospect enters the pipeline to time they leave), measure the net promoter score
  5. Up-sell clients on complimentary precast concrete products or landscaping options

Marketing

  1. Apply growth hacking tactics
  2. Train everyone in the organization to realize their role in marketing – it’s everyones job
  3. Create a brand mantra for the organization
  4. Create word of mouth buzz by taking the installation one step further, landscape the yard after your done
  5. Study how Intel branded their microchip. Since neither the septic tank nor processor are visible, there could be a lot of learning. For example, Barger & sons could create an audio jingle for all their radio, web and TV commercials as well as reinforce the message on telephone messages, phone ringers etc.
  6. Start a Barger & Sons precast concrete university to educate home builders and commercial installers on innovations in the industry
  7. Revisit the company’s history to find a good story. Why did the founder start the company? What standards did he set that you still uphold today?

Advertising

  1. Create a unique customizable septic tank cap cover that the clients will talk about
  2. Place lawn signs and/or door knockers on current job sites
  3. Expand the geographical advertising zone
  4. Use the ideas of reach, magnification and resonance as described in Millward Brown’s media multiplier effect

Delivery & inventory control

  1. Study Toyota’s just-in-time delivery methods
  2. Forecast only as far as you can accurately predict. Then buy only the supplies you need for that period of time. Yes you may not get the volume discount, but you’ll also not have to pay for storage and warehousing space of all the added inventory.

HR

  1. Promote one staff member to management and hire someone from outside the industry for diversifying the manufacturing team. You need a surplus of management capacity to grow

Customer Experience

  1. Use an empathy map to create a marketing persona of your idea customers
  2. Map the customer’s decision journey to find points of influence that the company can have an impact with. Use all media (paid, earned and owned) to create a remarkable customer experience
  3. Standardize a customer follow-up system to check in at 1, 6, 12 and 24 months to thank them for their business, ask for referrals and trouble shoot
  4. Use social media as a feedback loop to gain better understanding of consumer sentiment and industry research

Employee engagement

  1. Consider adopting Open book management
  2. Employee design challenges – get team to think outside the box. Similar to Google 20% time or Facebook Hackathons
  3. Create system of intrinsic motivation – connect duties to a higher purpose, mastery of topic and offer autonomy

Growth Booster

  1. Have the CEO join the boards of other companies. These inter-company links have been proven to have a tremendous impact on the company’s turnaround
  2. Look at faster & cheaper options for outsourcing the manufacture of the septic tanks
  3. Innovation accounting – count the number of new profitable products that didn’t exist 3 years ago. This will need constant testing and learning about new products and markets.

 

What do you think of my recommendations?  What would you have done differently? Is there anything you would have liked to add?

 

 

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