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The "Right" Approach to Growth

Written by KV on Tuesday, 10 June 2014 13:12.

I attended a "Sharpen the Saw" day for Executive MBAs recently. The agenda included speakers from various business sectors. One such speaker was a business consultant who operates a firm that helps organizations hone resources to serve the top 20% of their customer base to expand revenue and increase efficiency. You know the premise from Pareto: 20% of a business's clients yield 80% of its revenues - and the bottom 80% require more than an astounding 90% of its resources. The point being that a business should focus on delivering services and experiences that strengthen the business relationship with the top 20% of customers. As for the other 80% - well, business ought to seriously scrutinize any resources put towards them. Instead, they should discover other low-cost methods to satisfy these customers. Sounds like a no-brainer approach, right? The stats that the speaker presented were certainly compelling and I noticed many nodding heads in approval. But at the end of the speaker line-up for the day, we heard from a woman business-owner named Kitty Van Bortel. Van Bortel is a Rochester, New York native. Her father owned a dealership so she grew-up 'in the business', but in no way was anything given to her. She has an admirable history of being one of the first women to own and operate a car dealership in upstate New York...possibly the entire state. She had to lobby for years to convince Subaru to grant her a dealership that today is the company's top selling dealership in the nation. Over the years, she added Ford to her automotive group and that dealership is considered one of the most successful in a multi-state area. She recently added Chevy to the line-up. Van Bortel in nothing short of a true standout in the automotive industry and she has industry acclaim to prove it ( So, naturally, as a featured speaker at our event, she was highlighting the approaches she felt were essential to her business growth and continued success.

Incredibly, her top "non-negotiables" were REPUTATION and ACCESSIBILITY...and she practiced what she preached. Every single person who encountersVan Bortel's dealerships and employees (of which there are over 250) receives the same level of customer service. And every single person who asks to speak to Kitty gets her personal cell phone number. It's as simple as that - whether they buy


"Plans are not important.
Planning is."

Dwight D. Eisenhower