DWM’s Fastest-Growing Dealer List has got me pondering about fast-growing companies in general. What are the keys to success for a fast-growing company?

  1. It must have a product that the market wants.
  2. It must be committed to providing this product to the customers at the proper price point while earning a fair profit.
  3. It must be willing to re-invest a substantial portion of that profit back into the business.
  4. It must be highly adaptive and capable of changing rapidly as market conditions and customer needs change.

Having a product that the market wants sounds simple, but it’s not. Very few companies conduct market research. Often, product design concepts are decided by a few individuals at the top. That means the company is building products based upon what this individual or this small group of individuals perceive to be the needs of the market. Smart companies conduct market research. It doesn’t mean they have to spend thousands with a consulting firm. It could be as simple as bringing in the sales group and getting feedback from those individuals closest to the customer. Also, it could be accomplished with customer focus groups, bringing in a cross-section of the market and getting their input on new product concepts and price points.

Yes, price points. Selling these desirable products at the proper price point and achieving a fair profit margin is my next point. If we hit the mark by designing and fabricating the types of products customers want but we cannot meet the proper price point, then our sales will not grow. We must not only hit the mark with the right product but also do so at price that our target market is willing to pay and which still allows us to achieve a fair profit. If we do not have key relationships with material suppliers, efficient manufacturing methods, effective quality assurance methods and low overhead costs, then our product may be overpriced and we will gain a much smaller share of the market than our competitors.

My third point is key to growth, and that is a willingness to re-invest profit back into the business. This comes down to a decision by the company’s ownership. How much of the profit earned do we re-invest back into the company to make sure we are on the leading edge as it relates to our product design and features? Do we need to upgrade our manufacturing process, perhaps investing in automation in order to bring our price point down in the face of competitive price pressure? Do we need to invest in marketing campaigns to make sure our message is received by the customers that we are targeting? A company can have the greatest product in the market, but it must convey that to the intended target customer — and also often assist those customers in conveying the news to their intended customers through use of co-op marketing campaigns.

Finally, being quick to adapt to market needs is crucial. If the market needs or price points change, the company must be able to quickly adapt to move right along with the market. Our industry has seen dynamic changes in the last ten years with ever-increasing demands for more thermally efficient windows and doors, more stringent and costly test requirements and NFRC labelling requirements. We have also seen rapid shifts in the market mix, such as new construction vs. remodeling, aluminum vs. wood vs. vinyl, and triple pane vs. double pane or in some places double pane vs. single pane. Companies that were able to rapidly adapt have flourished, and those who were not were forced to close doors.

These four elements hold the key to achieving fast growth in our now slower-growing market. Now is the time of the year to re-assess your company to see how it stacks up in each of these areas. Is your company well positioned to take the fast track?

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