In the Trenches: How Big Should We Grow?

BrettSnyder by Brett Snyder on March 6, 2013
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The general consensus among business owners seems to be that growth is great. If you have more demand for what you offer, you should grow. That way, you can create more jobs, help more people, and ultimately make more money. So, it seems strange that I find myself asking how much growth is too much. But every company is different.

Cranky Concierge is a true service business. People come to us because they want the personal, one-on-one attention that they aren’t getting from the airlines. One of our competitive advantages is that when clients give us their details, we keep their profiles and learn their wants and needs. Although a lot of this information is stored and could be transferred among concierges, there’s no question that much of our success comes from having the same employee assist the same clients over and over again.

As we continue to expand our customer base, I need to think more about how much growth is too much. At some point, it’s likely that the personal service we provide will become diluted, because we’ll have more employees and more clients to look after. Keeping track of individuals and providing that same level of personal service will be increasingly difficult the bigger we get. There are good and bad parts to this.

The good part is that attracting more customers will allow us to keep offering our services for a low price. We aren’t trying to provide an upmarket experience. I take pride in being able to help everyday travelers with modest budgets, but it’s hard to make a living without increasing our volume. We could easily keep our operation small if we opted to charge hefty commissions to the rich and famous, because then we would earn enough money to survive with just a few exclusive clients. But that wouldn’t give me the same level of satisfaction as a business owner. We need to grow.

The bad part, however, is that if we grow too much, the service will lose its value, even at low prices. I’m not sure how to resolve this issue, because something tells me that I won’t know we’ve grown too much until after it happens. But I’m certainly trying to watch our progress as closely as I can.

BrettSnyder

Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.

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