John Holder's Casebook

The reason for sharing this case is that the client was suffering from some very common problems, seen in many other businesses by this Business Growth Specialist. They had effectively only one offering.

  1. There was no scope to upsell, down-sell or cross-sell.
  2. There was no deluxe version.
  3. They were working in the dark, suffering a total lack of knowledge about what was going on in their business. There was no clarity. There was no analysed data to help them identify where they make their best profit, and where they make less. This issue is, alarmingly, all too common. Managers have to operate with inadequate accounting systems. Or their systems are just not set up in a way to provide them the kind of analysis they truly require.

If this describes your situation too, there are simple steps to resolve these issues, covered below!

The Client

The client happened to be in Financial Services (I use that term in the loosest sense).

How was this problem affecting them? Well, they had effectively a single offering, but it was tailored to the needs of each individual client. Therefore, if facility A is the best fit for a client rather than facility B, that is what they will be sold since that represents the best value for them. There was a Rolls-Royce version, facility E, but that is only sold to those rare people that truly need that higher level of functionality. But because they only offered the right fit solution for any client, there is no bells and whistles premium product, so there’s no scope for an upsell.

There is a token gesture element of slight cross-selling, which gives them the opportunity to get back in front of the client slightly more frequently in case anything has changed, such that they can perhaps refine the service provided a little bit better, but they really do have a major challenge. What’s the answer in that situation?

In my opinion, you have to be really, really good at what you do when in that position, so that you are the dominant player, the natural choice for people who need that particular product or service you happen to be selling, so that you get the lion’s share of that market, even though you have no upsell, cross-sell or down-sell whatever.


Let’s take a moment to demystify the above terms. If you were to visit a car showroom with a particular model in mind, for example a Ford Focus. If then as you explored the various options, the functionality, the equipment levels and how you would use the vehicle, it became clear that in reality you might need, or you might get better value shall we say, from a Mondeo instead of that Focus. That is a classic example of an upsell. It might just be that you went in expecting to buy the standard, not the basic but the standard level and they sold you to a higher spec, possibly they persuaded you that you should go for a bigger engine. It still has the same effect, that they’re parting you with more cash. That is an upsell.

If instead you realised while there that you could not afford to buy the car of your choice new, they would probably suggest that you buy a pre-owned model, which is now affordable within your budget. They are keeping you as a customer, but they’re not parting you with quite as much money as they had hoped, and you had originally anticipated. That is a down-sell.

Oh and while they’re at it, if they then sold you an extended warranty, together with some accessories to go in the car, that is a cross-sell because it’s something additional to what you originally intended to buy. It all makes sense when you put it in those terms, doesn’t it?


If your situation is that you too lack a range of models, you don’t have budget alternatives (pre-owned in the above), you don’t have a deluxe offering, how can you exploit these concepts in your business too? How can you generate that extra profit that comes from having such offerings? Differentiation is the answer, through Innovation, which doesn’t necessarily mean a high-tech advanced design exercise. Further examples and ideas appear in Premium pricing … priceless?

This can be merely thinking through a different process and/or what else you could offer the same customer base that they would value. That you, as a trusted provider, could sell to them, and make a good profit on. Even if you’re buying in and reselling somebody else’s product or service. Now there’s a thought! Or perhaps a way of deluxe-ing what you offer is to come up with a bundle. We are familiar with bundling where you can buy just a PC. But you might be offered a PC with a monitor and a mouse and a keyboard, sometimes even with a printer, and if you add up the individual components it looks as though it’s a very attractive deal for you. That is bundling.

So who else’s complementary product or service could you sell to your customers alongside of and to augment your product or service, that your customer base would value? That you could make a good profit on, and with virtually no additional marketing cost to you? That’s an interesting challenge for you!

Data Gap

There was no measure of profitability on the various levels of facility. Ooops! They knew this was a problem, our session merely confirmed in their minds that this was an issue that needed to be addressed, and quickly. Then there was the ongoing service, going through that facility. How profitable is that? It’s a variable, a moving feast, depending on how much activity the client has over a period of time. How does that impinge on the profitability or otherwise of the service? Impossible to say, with no data to support a decision or an opinion, one way or the other.

It’s a challenge isn’t it? The obvious solution is to start monitoring the data in a better way, then at least they can see how to move forward and hopefully identify who the ideal client or customer would be. That is in terms of which facility they would have, what volume of transactions they would need to have, etc in order to make them a really good profitable client for the business in point.


This is something which can be fixed. In exactly the same way, if you have no measurements going on in your marketing right now,  you  have no understanding of what is and what is not working well. Similarly if you have no clear view as to who are your better prospects and/or your ideal customers. These are issues which we can address;  we might begin with an estimate, then start gathering data to prove or disprove that estimate. As we add more data and refine it so we can identify the biggest problem; you have to start somewhere. If you don’t have any data at all currently, now is a good time to start collecting it.

What if I’m collecting the wrong data, you ask? Well, I’m not sure there is such a thing as “wrong data”! You may realise later that there is better data, which will mean more to you, and help you take better decisions. That will become apparent with the passage of time so that you can then start measuring additional metric points. Pulse Points I call them, because they are measuring the life flow of the business. Very often these are non-financial.

If you would like help with evolving such ideas, please get in touch, either here or by email to [email protected].


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It has taken the #Covid-19 virus to cause me to examine both my actions and my motives as a business adviser. You see, as a business strategist, I’m supposed to:

  • lead
  • inspire
  • cause change
  • positively impact those around me

… and especially those that need help in this time of economic crisis.


I’ve been sitting at my desk with literally mountains of business growth experience, tools and systems at my disposal … but with only self-centered thoughts about how this might impact my family. I finally realised I was focused on myself instead of the wider community, and for this, I’m sorry.

Affordable for all

For this reason, until further notice, any business owner / chief exec can now enjoy my group at a drastically reduced fee. During this crisis, instead of the regular £497/month, you need only pay £147/month so it’s affordable for everyone, and you also have a 200% ROI guarantee. That is, at the end of the month, if you don’t think you received at least double the value from that monthly fee, just let me know and I’ll refund that month’s payment, no questions asked.

Safe & comfortable

To keep us all safe, we will meet on-line, in a virtual environment so we can come together without placing ourselves and our loved ones at risk.


Just so you know what to expect, in each session you’ll learn:

  • how to generate more leads
  • close more sales
  • what steps you can take when things settle down that will help you generate immediate revenue with increased profits.

Following that, I’ll open up the virtual forum for questions, masterminding solutions, and general problem solving.

You will receive my best advice, share in all my marketing and business growth secrets, and have all your questions answered. And the following week, we’ll do it again. And we’ll keep going for as long as this crisis lasts.

We’re going to be 100% proactive and results-oriented in these sessions, with no fluff and no theory.

I’m here to serve my community by facilitating this.

Join us now and you will replace confusion & uncertainty with confidence. You will gain:-


  • about how to survive
  • about why your customers buy from you
  • and about your message to resonate with more prospects


  • in your message
  • through all channels
  • by all your team



  • through systemised processes that will deliver results when required
  • plus taking back control of your own future
sign up now



If however you prefer more details before you start reaping these benefits, rather than facing this battle alone, please see here

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As a recognised local Business Growth Specialist, John Holder was interviewed on Radio Plus, which you may listen to here:-

While holidaying on Lanzarote recently, we experienced the conditions called Calima. For those of you not familiar with it, a calima is where they have dust & sand particles in the air, which not only restricts your vision (or at least how far you can see) but it also makes it far more uncomfortable for people.

Your restricted vision takes the form of nearby islands being totally obscured, with some of the less distant hillsides, mountains and so on, fuzzy in the murk. And as for the horizon, forget it, that’s just a hazy blur!

The second aspect, the less comfortable conditions come about by the blanket effect of the sand and dust particles in the atmosphere almost acting like a magnifying glass, but certainly acting as an insulation layer holding one day’s heat in overnight so that it then rebuilds the following day, because every day has nice bright sunshine at this time of year. The good news from a personal perspective was that they did not have the most extreme conditions known as a Sirocco, where it is a wind blowing Sahara desert dust across, so it’s a hot wind in the first place, with far more thicker cloud, murk, call it what you will, acting as the insulation blanket, thus making it the most uncomfortable situation imaginable. Overnight is way too oppressive to sleep well!

As a Business Growth Specialist, I thought that this was, in a way, quite comparable to our existing UK situation when it comes to running our businesses, as the economic outlook is almost suffering a calima, where through Brexit negotiations and government uncertainty we are unable to see that far ahead, which restricts our forward planning. Likewise, that inability to see that far forward, to have any certainty as to what is going to happen in the coming months, let alone years, is also a very uncomfortable situation and turns up the heat on us as decision takers.

Now I’m going to bang the same drum that I’ve banged before, namely that business owners tend to fall into two camps and I’m hoping that those of you who listen and/or read this will fall into the camp of action takers. I believe you should be taking action based on what little information you can be sure of, and shaping your future regardless of what else is going on, because you know what, there are all too many others out there, and in particular the vast majority of your direct competitors who are going to sit tight and do nothing until they know for sure. If you ramp up your marketing now, you will steal a march on them, not only now but downstream too because having stepped up your marketing campaigns and efforts now, you will be that much stronger, you will have more certainty about what strategies are working for you, and you will be able to implement them even better, having trialled them through these uncertain times. There will also be the added benefit that whatever you do now is going to raise your profile far more than those who do nothing and just sit on their hands, and thus, come the better days, you will be a better known supplier of the goods or services you provide.

How do you see forward through these murky hazy conditions? Crystal ball gazing has always been a bit of a black art and more luck than judgement; politics, wars, terrorist activities, natural disasters, all unforeseeable events and uncontrollable by we business owners. So we can never plan with 100% confidence and certainty. Many of us have realised this, have got used to it and just work with the best available intell we have, make certain assumptions where we don’t have hard knowledge, hard facts, and we base everything around that. Yes, sometimes we need to be a little bit more, what’s the word, nimble, agile, to be prepared to make changes if an assumption is proven wrong, but I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Let’s face it, if you were to set off in a car from London heading towards Newcastle, your satellite navigation system is not working, you don’t have any roadmaps. If you started by saying, well, Newcastle is somewhere north so you started going up the M1, by the time you reached the junction with the M6, so you’re pretty much level with Birmingham, if you then realise that you might be better off further east, at least you are some 70 miles (?) closer to your destination than if you’d stayed in London waiting for perfect knowledge before starting your journey. Yes, you are perhaps on a slight detour, but you’re still closer to your objective than you otherwise would have been. Even if you then took the decision to branch off and follow the M6 which took you a lot closer to Manchester, it’s no big deal, you’re still closer to Newcastle than London is, and it is a recoverable situation via the M62, which will bring you across to a point where you can pick up the A1, which is I believe the preferred route to take. So you see, starting with imperfect knowledge is not a total disaster, it does not prevent you from achieving your objectives, reaching your destination.

That’s just one very simple analogy, so I urge you enjoy these times, recognise the discomfiture of your competitors, seek out the best intell you can, and then take action, positive action that is going to shape the future of your business come the day when this economic political calima comes to an end for us here in the UK. You will be that far further ahead than your competitors, and you’ll look back at this time and be grateful that you took action rather than sitting on your hands.

In short, never mind the Calima, get busy marketing through the uncertainty!

Now if you would like to raise your game further, by implementing Strategic Marketing which mitigates the other uncertainties, let’s have a conversation about what that looks like in your business.

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Crabapple Tree in Autumn

When is your best thinking time? There’s a question isn’t it! How many of us actually allow ourselves time to think about the bigger picture for our business?

I find going for a brisk walk works wonders for me. As I write this, walking alongside a local reservoir, some of the sounds I hear are geese taking flight for their migration for the winter. As they take flight, so does my imagination, and I get ideas flying around inside my head. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced this. Communing with nature while exercising my legs is a great way for me to get away from the computer screen, the day-to-day activity, the hurly-burly of the office, and just think freely about the bigger picture. Does it always work? No, but it works more often than not, probably due to the improved physiognomy.

I would suggest that if you find what works for you, with regular training you too can make sure that your brain gets used to it. You can make this a habitual exercise of your brain, to switch on the creative juices whenever you are doing that activity. When might work for you? For some it could be to strap a dictation microphone onto their head when they’re exercising in the gym. (I know other people who use that time to learn, by listening to podcasts and so on, or the audio track of a webinar. That’s fine, it’s more productive use of their time rather than just mindless music. However, maybe that is the appropriate opportunity for you to think.) Perhaps you don’t regularly exercise in the gym, but I would certainly recommend you not only discover what works to help your creative juices flow, but I’d also recommend you do this in relative privacy.

I know that walking along the track around the reservoir is not deserted. While there are other people, they are used to people seemingly talking to themselves, using mobile ‘phone headsets with a microphone dangling down somewhere. So it doesn’t seem so very strange to them, and in any case they’ve gone past in next to no time, so that’s never a problem. Whereas sat in the middle of a crowded commuter train may not be ideal, apart from which capturing your thoughts and ideas may be more of a challenge above the general background noise, mechanical noises and/or announcements that break-in every so often.

As a Business Growth Specialist I pose the question: Why should you take time out to think like this? If you don’t, how else will you create that space. How else will you have these revelationary insights, about what you should be doing with your business, the goals you wish to set? It doesn’t matter how, if these sessions give you the desired outcome, so you get what you want to see achieved recorded, in some way, shape or form. Refer back to these records/recordings, allow your subconscious mind to work on it and help you find solutions; if only by identifying that someone you meet can help you achieve that desired outcome, because they have a skill set that you don’t, but which, when harnessed with your thinking and your internal know-how will create a positive, lasting result for your business.

Many of us imbued with a strong work ethic may struggle to overcome Presentism, the state of mind which regards being at our place of work for every nominal working hour as mandatory. If that’s you, consider the case of visiting a key customer; you’re away from your desk, in working hours, but that’s alright. It’s not wrong to use the golf course as a sales occasion, during working hours, is it? So why not allow yourself the licence to think up potentially more important opportunities, off-site during working hours?

I’ll tell you what, this thinking lark has a lot going for it. It might be you come up with creative ideas for promotion of your business, or you get ideas for a blog like I just did. Get it recorded, note it, examine it later to assess its value. Sometimes you’ll come up with such off the wall ideas it’s never going to work. Okay, some you win some you lose. But it might just be that the totally off the wall idea today becomes your next major revenue stream in three years time. Wouldn’t that be good? So please don’t dismiss anything; log it, monitor it and then measure it and assess it.

Well now, if we are going to have these thinking sessions, I bring you back to my first question: Where and when do you do your thinking? It does make you think, doesn’t it!

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While thinking about premium pricing, and why many business owners and decision takers shy away from this, it seemed to this Business Growth Specialist that either they aren’t even considering it, or they’re just not thinking it through properly. It never ceases to amaze me how many times people query Value Pricing, as opposed to the Cost Plus basis, or even worse “the market price” cop-out!

I then remembered an experience from many years ago, which illustrates this very well. Do you remember that iconic French car, the Citroen 2CV? Very few Brits remained neutral about them; fans adored them while the majority mocked. Those who drove them for any length of time learned of the gearbox Achilles heel. One of the gear cogs or pinions unscrewed itself from it’s intended location, under certain conditions (the consensus view was that reversing too rapidly caused this).

Please remember two points here; the majority of owners of these cars were keen to DIY maintain their pride & joy out of economic necessity, and garage service rates were about £20 to £25 per hour at the time of this story. The choice was stark when this gearbox issue arose. Allow at least one full day to strip down and rebuild the gearbox yourself, or pay a garage to spend a day doing so for you, at a cost of maybe £120 to £150. Or at least that was it, until a local specialist innovated a quick fix.

Now there’s the key. Innovation. That specialist service centre devised a process which allowed them to fix this very problem in just half an hour! They set a price of £50 for this. That’s a premium of between 4 and 5 times the ‘going rate’ for labour!

This did two things for their business; it yielded additional profit from their unique ability, but it also generated additional work because they were then perceived as the only true experts. So why would owners prepared to pay for servicing take they’re vehicles anywhere else?

Premium pricing for products is more to do with placement and reputation, but if you are a service business, what process(es) have you devised that save(s) the client/customer time and aggravation? Have you priced it/them accordingly?

Consistency demands that I apply this too. And I do have a dramatically quicker proprietary process for resolving Strategy. This not only clears certain ‘road blocks’ out of their way, but means the client business can confidently plan and implement those ideas to grow their profits much sooner. This innovation saves my client their own input time, which is often overlooked, yet is a significant cost (especially the opportunity cost, meaning what else they could achieve if not diverted unnecessarily). Thus it represents great value.

So I urge you to review your business operations, to identify where you have innovated, or could innovate, a process improvement that your clients/customers will value more highly.

To higher profits …

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