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Joe is a team leader in the sales and marketing department of a Real Estate company. He has been a steadfast employee and will be celebrating his 6th anniversary with the organisation in a few days. Joe’s journey has not been a smooth sail. He has only been promoted once which was the general promotion accorded to practically everyone in the company. Earlier in the year, the majority of the agency’s portfolios have been struggling and then the pandemic hit, sending most portfolios crashing. Something has to give, and quickly too otherwise, the company will have to rethink its strategy.

Rumour has it that the company might start laying off employees and possibly start merging functions to save costs. The last thing Joe would want to ask for is a promotion. He might be the first to receive his marching orders because that would be bad timing. But what can Joe do? Is this an opportunity starring Joe in the face?

Are you working very hard and still not getting noticed? Are you only delivering on what you were hired to do? If that’s the case, you should not expect much from your employers other than what was agreed will be your take-home and bonuses.

There is a more expedient way to be relevant in your organisation without testing the patience of your bosses and I will share a story on how Joe turned his situation around, even during the pandemic.

Are you working on what matters most to the people you report to or the organisation? To become influential and help your company grow, you must be bold enough to tackle the big problems. What are they? They are problems that keep your superiors awake at night? Problems that make your board restless.  Your relevance lies at the point where those needs and those of customers intersect. Which is the value creation zone.  Do not get sucked in on what you are comfortable with or used to.

So, let us go back to Joe’s situation. He is currently the team leader reporting to the CMO. Part of their portfolio, commercial properties located in the suburbs is currently struggling to attract customers while existing subscribers were leaving the occupied apartments chiefly because of the mandatory one-year rental clause.

Joe’s company would not risk doing any business with a potential customer unless a minimum of the one-year rental because general maintenance of the flats was expensive. They needed the funds upfront to maintain the suites.

Joe had an idea. Having observed and spoken to several customers, he discovered that majority of subscribers were either young, single, or newlyweds at the early stage of their career. They had steady jobs but paying for the luxury serviced apartment for a year will be a stretch. The pandemic has not helped much either with some having to accept less emolument. Being in the category of the newlyweds, Joe knew first hand what it’s like living on a tight budget.

Joe also recalled the CEO lamenting after the second quarter about a saturated market and how the company needed to innovate new ways of securing profitable growth. Joe had a light bulb moment. The value creation zone.

So he swung into action with his team, working on a different revenue model. It entailed asking subscribers to pay rent and service charges a month in advance. That should eliminate credit risks, improve cash flow, and steadily increase revenues while getting more subscribers to move into their properties. That was what Joe and his team put together. In theory, it looked good.

Next were his colleagues from finance, operations, and other functions. They did not think it was a good idea. They thought the model was not a profitable one. That money will come in trickles they argued. Others thought it would attract a certain type of subscribers they were not looking to cater to.

Joe’s team was resilient. They unbundled each concern raised by other departments and came up with a plan. After a rough sketch, Joe’s team presented the plan to the senior management and board. It did not go well at all. The board did not think it was worth the risk and senior management could not agree more.

Joe’s team refused to give up. Upon approval, they decided to run a pilot test and the results were outstanding. Customers were thrilled to pay upfront monthly with a little extra. Now armed with not just an idea, but a plan with supporting facts, they arranged a second meeting with the senior management who thought it was more convincing this time to escalate to the board for approval. The board gave the green light. People will listen to you when you can convince them where the next revenue will come from.

Many subscribers were happy to pay upfront with a little extra to mitigate the risks associated with that model. And because that location had a significant number of people that fell into that single to newlyweds’ bracket, converting them to subscribers was easy.

 Other financially buoyant customers were given 3 to 6 months payment options upfront with a little extra added as well. Customers were happy with the deal has it gave some money at their disposal.

A property with service apartments that was never above 55% let, was now getting fully occupied. Customer acquisition improved, so did retention making the company generate steady revenue and secure profitable growth. So, Joe and his team found that sweet spot called the value creation zone; in which customer and company need intersect.

How to get your “Joe” moment.

  • Focus on the big issues and prioritise the major ones, not more than 3 issues.
  • Figure out what matters most to customers and the CEO/organisation.
  • Be a self-led person. Have a vision, be self-aware, know your onions from customers, products, to industry.
  • Develop skills essential for 360-degree leadership, because you cannot make a big splash without collaborating with colleagues and superiors.

Next time, don’t wait to be asked. Now is the time for you to take charge and lead.

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