Last week I posted a really good article by my good friend Stephen Cobb titled “Don’t Take Your Customer For Granted”. In the article, he discussed how to make sure the customer and we were aligned and to emphasize with the customer what successes we had mutually enjoyed as well as what else we could achieve together.
This reminded me of the struggles we both experienced when we worked together for The Coca-Cola Company on the McDonald’s business. Both companies had their own dashboard and measures for success and this got in the way of our partnership. We were talking different languages because we had different goals.
Our team struggled to find a common language and set of key business indicators that we could jointly focus on. We were looking to change the dialogue from “what’s in it for me?” to “what’s in it for both of us?”
Why is this so important? Well, it gets to the heart of being on the literal same page with our customer. It means we start focusing on the same things. This is a game changer. If you can crack this then both organizations at all levels start looking at the same data and suggesting how best to move the needle. It means you naturally form the basis for a strategic partnership.
If you are like me, I struggle with finding that common denominator that means as much to me as it does to my client or customer. It can often be elusive. It means looking beyond the obvious success factors and dashboard criteria such as revenue, profit, share price and ROI because milestones and indicators such as these are not the same for each company.
What we were trying to establish, was a lower level business indicator that would ladder up to revenue and profits but would help both companies focus on specifics that would drive the business. If we could find these, then all our marketing efforts could be focused on improving and leveraging them, and the rest would follow.
In the end, like most things, the solution was simple. So often, we over complicate things in our quest for the perfect solution. So what is the secret of getting on the same page?
The on-premise soft drink business growth opportunity is much like all businesses. You can either sell more of the same thing to existing customers or sell to new customers. In beverage terms, ounces (bigger servings) or incidence (more servings).
As soft drinks are the most profitable item on the fast food menu, the more servings they sold and the more ounces per serving, meant more profit for them, and of course for us. The win-win. Therefore, it won’t surprise you that “supersizing’ was created by the beverage industry for the fast food business. Trading up means more ounces.
So how do you focus on this? Based on the data we had, we could plot for an individual store the trend over time, for incidence and ounces for our soft drinks.Typically we would look at each quarter. We could also analyze the same for a country and region. In doing so, we could review from a store manager up to a Division President and higher, what the data was telling us and discuss what we could do to improve it.
At all levels of both companies, we were talking the same language and focused on the same thing. It was an amazing breakthrough in our relationship with McDonald’s and drove revenue and profits to new higher levels for both of us.
The secret to building great relationships and being able to raise them to the level of strategic partnerships is being able to focus on the same things. This means shared responsibility, shared solutions and shared successes.
Have you found common business indicators you can use with your customer? Are you on the same page?