Ideas For Better Lemon-Squeezing In Business
By David Molian, Director of the Business Growth and Development Programme (BGP) at Cranfield School of Management
In the last ten years of working with independent businesses I’ve learned the value of lemon-squeezing. Does that make this a cookery show or a business blog? Well, I guess a bit of both. I use “lemon-squeezing” to describe getting more value out of your existing business and existing customer base. And, yes, it’s based on a cooking observation. Most people, when they add lemon juice to a dish, will tend to do the following:
Take a lemon. Slice it. Squeeze one half – partially. Discard....
...Take second, unsqueezed half, wrap in clingfilm (this is optional), and place in back of fridge. Open fridge two weeks later to discover mouldering piece of lemon and discard, unsqueezed.
Well, that’s how it works when I’m in the kitchen.
My observation is that this is also how it works for a lot of businesses. You extract a certain amount of business from your customers, just enough for present purposes. Then you put them in cold storage and when you go back to them, they’ve gone mouldy on you. Sounds familiar?
All the evidence suggests that most successful independently-owned and managed businesses grow through business development: they sell more of their existing products and services to their existing customers, and others who are like them. In other words, they become better and better at squeezing lemons.
Over the years I’ve been assembling hint and tips, based on anecdotes from entrepreneurs I’ve worked with. Here are a few choice ones for you to share:
1. Assign responsibility for lemon-squeezing as a priority to one person, who can look at opportunities across the organisation and across the customer base. One participant in a 2004 Cranfield Programme described his experience of putting this into place even before... continued on page two >