Are you anxious about the success of your business through the current recession? There are positive steps to take and opportunities to grow during a down economy. You just have to know what they are and be willing to do what it takes to not only survive but to succeed while others quake in fear.
Polish up your customer service! If you are not treating your customer like gold already, now is the time to step up. And not just your current best customers but also those who might be on the fence or have pulled back. Every person you talk to, meet, come in contact with either in person, on the phone, through the mail or email should be treated like your very best friend. Because they have the potential to be just that. And friends deserve to be treated with respect, courtesy, and honesty. Even the person you may suspect would be the least interested in your services or products or looks like they may not have a nickel to their name deserves your best customer service. You don’t really know their interests or their financial situation and you certainly don’t know who they may talk to during their everyday lives. It does not cost you anything to be friendly and respectful to everyone.
And while we are discussing respect and courtesy don’t forget your employees are people also. Just like you they will work harder and be more productive if they feel their efforts are recognized and appreciated. They want your business to succeed, because they want to continue to have a job. So make them part of your success story. And should you have to make the hard decision to let some of them go, then at least give them as much warning as you can and offer a letter of recommendation and perhaps make some phone calls if you know of others in your industry that may be hiring. An employee that is working for a company they respect can be the best word of mouth advertising you can get.
Take a good look at the services and products you sell. And cut out the losers. Your products and services should offer excellent value for the selling price. Don’t make the mistake of selling a lesser product or performing less than great service at this time. The little you may save could cost you a lot over time – your reputation, your customers, your success. An example of this is the restaurant business – I have seen so many small restaurants start up with great meals and service only to cut back on both when business slows down.
The first thing to go is the coffee – and believe me if the coffee isn’t good the food is also not going to be good because if the coffee is being watered down they are taking shortcuts elsewhere. My recommendation to these restaurants, if they had asked, would be -cut down on the choices you offer. Offer meals that are cooked with care using the very best ingredients available. You will be know for your quality and customers will come. No one wants a large selection of bad food (or coffee). No matter what your business is you can cut down your overall number of items or services you offer and specialize in what you know well and do great which along with the best customer service in the area will allow you to compete with those big box stores.
Clean, clean and then clean some more. A bright, clean and welcoming store or office makes customers comfortable. Being comfortable makes customers want to look around, perhaps purchase things that they did not come in for and certainly inspire them to return. Those big stores pay for studies to find the right smell, the right music, and the right colors to make customers want to part with their money. Look around, is your business inviting? If not then get out the brooms and mops, and perhaps the paint brush. Dusty shelves, messy desks do not inspire confidence in your business.
One last thought, make sure you and your employees are clean and presentable as well. There are very few jobs where people can not be clean. Whether you are working in an office, delivering the mail, pumping gas, driving a trash truck or working a construction site when meeting with a customer your hands can be clean, your clothes can be presentable and your over all appearance can be neat. And business owners you never know who you might meet at the game, the gym, the grocery store, walking down the street so be ready and presentable. Now this doesn’t mean you are model perfect every minute of your life, it just means you are clean and presentable. And no one is going to leave talking about your messy hair, your dirty nails, your ripped clothes, or wonder when was the last time you brushed your teeth or took a shower.
If you want to succeed in a sinking economy then your business needs to shine in every way. Stand out as the exception in your community and you will stand out as a leader in your industry.
Copyright all rights reserved D. L. MacMillan
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