Philie Group Blog

Control Customer Attrition and Grow Your Business
By Mike Philie

This blog originally published in Printing Impressions


It’s that time of year when many are looking over their business results from the prior year. Which customers grew their business with you and which ones receded. And then there’s the ever elusive new business – how did that go for you this past year? If this review is good to do at the end of the year, it’s probably even better to do at least quarterly.


You’d like to think that growth from existing customers is due to your superb quality, customer experience, and essentially solving all of their problems. And attrition from existing customers is often viewed as a force out of your control. While I’m not convinced that either end of that spectrum is necessarily accurate, I will say that if you’re not acutely aware of either, than you can’t assert any influence to sway the outcome.


Using your MIS as a tool, pull reports showing sales by customer for the current period, compare them to the same period last year, and track the variance. Sorting by the variance will quickly show you the customers that have grown, those that have remained virtually the same and those that are heading south. You can do this with sales, value added, and or profit results by customer. Knowledge becomes a powerful thing! Do the exercise and ACT on the results.


New business can easily be tracked by looking at customers that had sales for the current period and no sales for the comparative period. These sound like simple exercises, and they are, but they are also extremely powerful in monitoring, and acting on your business.


Your net new business is now calculated by the growth of your existing customers, minus the attrition, plus the sales from the new customers. One of the most remarkable results of this is seeing how much growth there was from many of your existing customers. And new business usually isn’t bad either. The reality though is that attrition can often wipe out a significant amount of that growth, particularly if you’re not paying attention to it. There’s going to be attrition that you can’t control. For example, a client going out of business or merging with another, a product that is no longer going to be produced. OK, but how about the other 75% of the attrition – what happened there? It’s your job to find out and to work at slowing that attrition the best you can. And it’s not only a sales problem. It’s everyone with a client facing role or activity. From the receptionist to the delivery driver, to the late estimate or proof, to the botched carton labels, and the list goes on and on. Everyone has a role to play in slowing the rate of attrition. Communicate this throughout the shop, make it a key initiative for this year.


A great exercise to do in gauging your sales effectiveness, give it a try. Please share any thoughts or ideas you have on this. Good luck and remember, doing nothing is not an option.


Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at, LinkedIn or email at


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *