By: Stephen Novak
There is NO magic bullet that will save your business. It has always boiled down to people working hard and taking proactive steps every day to separate their business and themselves from the average businessman or the average employee.
Honestly ask yourself, what are YOU doing to make YOUR business successful? And, if what you’re doing ain’t working – DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!!! If you are running your business and selling your products/services the same way you did last year – you’re already a year behind!!!
1. Provide exceptional customer service every time. That’s one area where, I think, most of us would say “Hey Steve, We do a great job with customer service…our customers love us.” Really? Then why do only 8% of customers, when surveyed, agree? I challenge you to test this by having a friend, spouse, or someone you trust visit your business and report back to you. This will offer a unique customer point of view. This person should be unknown to your staff and willing to provide a candid assessment of how they were treated and how they felt about the overall transaction. Get them to comment on store cleanliness and, most importantly, would they return.
2. Make sure the frontend and backend of your business works like a well-oiled machine: Are the front counter and the service desk communicating the same message to your customers? Are your outside sales reps following through with logistics to make sure that the order went out on time? The owners and management must have the same bumper to bumper vision as the rest of the staff as to how a successful business looks and performs.
3. Cherish your loyal customers: Your return customers are your bread-and-butter. They are your greatest source of success. Because you have already established a good relationship with them, they usually take the least amount of effort to retain. Use that to your advantage (Not “Take Advantage Of”). They will more than likely come back to you if you ask them. Ask them to refer you to their friends.
4. Review your processes weekly: Continue to monitor your processes and/or procedures constantly. Make Adjustments if necessary. If any of your processes interfere with customer interaction or hinder your ability to build a relationship with customers – ELIMINATE THEM! If you have a customer focused business strategy that employs customer friendly processes or procedures, Follow them. If one/all of you have fallen off of the wagon and aren’t executing these processes and/or procedures correctly, get back on board!!! Help each other for continued growth. Each store should be agile enough to “juke” and “flex” to whatever is thrown at you. If you are having difficulty closing the sale…hand it off. If you overhear a poor phone presentation…offer to review the call or run scenarios to improve performance for the next call. If someone is having an off day, help them through it.
5. Reduce expenses: Everyone must be involved in eliminating waste: unproductive overtime, poorly maintained equipment, the A/C set on high all of the time, lights left on in vacant rooms, all lead to wasted dollars. Sometimes harder decisions must be made. If you are an owner or manager, you have to look at removing unproductive personnel. And, as an owner or manager, are YOU productive?
6. Don’t wait for customers to come to you: Roll up your sleeves – Swallow your pride – Get some courage and GET OUT THERE AND GROW YOUR CUSTOMER BASE!!! Meeting potential customers (And they are ALL potential customers) face to face will create a much more profound and lasting impression than any other form of advertising – Provided that you look and act as a professional.
7. Communicate with all of your customers: Ask questions. Find out what your customers truly want. Nurture those relationships. Ask for feedback often. We are all in this economy together – customers, owners, managers, and employees – and we will get ourselves to the other side together.
If you fail to thank your customers or invite them back, If you’re not a People Person or can’t find any value in relationships, if you fail to reduce expenses or continue to follow failed processes, or are too embarrassed to hold up a Picket (curb) sign if you are slow, or simply won’t carry out, at least, the basic things listed above then… prepare to fail!!!
Copyright © Stephen Novak 2011 Rising Moon Publications. All rights reserved.