How to deal with unexpected closings

5 11 2012

As a small business owner myself and I’m sure everything agrees that the one of the toughest decision of all to close or not to close when a crisis arises?. Well I’ve been coaching one of my clients lately about it so I want to share it with all of you. Please tell me if it is valuable for you.

Every business needs to close but tell your customer as early as possible in as many ways as possible. Some business owners think that if they close and don’t say anything the customer will just come back again. You customers don’t rely on you no matter how great, unique or popular you might be. Once you waste your customers time and see your closed when your hours say you should be open they get frustrated and angry. I have to say rightfully so because you wasted their time. If you find ways to tell them they may be disappointed but more than likely they will be understanding. Remember they get sick and have emergencies as well they don’t expect you to be perfect they expect you to be reliable. Closing here and there is understandable with proper planning and responsibility. HOWEVER expecting them to guess when you are going to be open or why you are closed is not only wrong you deserve to lose the Customer because you don’t care about them you only care about you.

Employee Appreciation–Showing the ones most important to you your gratitude

8 09 2007

The most important thing that all small business owners ask me about is making their employees enjoy coming to work without giving them a raise. In many companies large and small if you were to ask employees if they enjoy coming to work probably a few would say no. Surprisingly though if you ask them why it is NOT what you’d expect to hear as a business owner. It rarely has anything to do with employees feeling that they don’t make enough. It is more about how employees don’t feel that they are appreciated or valued for the job that they do.

The more personal touch you can use for employees the better.Most employees are so wrapped up in their work every day they don’t stop to see the contribution they are making to the big picture. How does what they are doing help to make the company more successful or profitable? Sometimes its because they don’t have the ability to see what other people are doing they are so focused on their task. Take time out to show them how they make a difference as an individual. Celebrate the individual more and the work they do.The unbelievable part is the the business owner much more to lose than the employee because of all the time and the money that have invested in the person. The employees gets to take all that knowledge to their next job.
Whoever came up with that line about employees don’t care about the company was somebody that was to scared to share how successful they where in fear that somebody was going to come and take it from them. Share as much as you can with your employees they will appreciate your openness. Being open with those who work for you have great dividends. One the best is the employees feel more responsible for contributing to the bottom line and give more to the company. When you can show them how they make a difference they will want to make more of a difference.

So there are obvious ways to show employees your gratitude

  • Find out what hobbies you employees have support them
  • Attend their children’s sports games
  • Get together for team gathering outside of work to do things like blow off steam or work on team building trust skills
  • Take those most important to them out for a night on the town
  • When suppliers give promotions or gifts make sure that employees get them as small thank yous
  • Sponsor school sports programs of employees children when looking for local promotional opportunities
  • Get all employees the “Entertainment Book” as s gift-it will cost about $30 yet it has coupons they can use totaling $1000’s

Lesson — If you don’t start show your employees how extremely grateful in your actions every day you run the risk of them leaving you and taking all their great abilities with them.

How to connect your customers with your products

24 08 2007

I was just watching “The Big Idea” on CNBC. Ive already talked about how great I think this show is for ideas. Well tonight when I was watching Donny was giving advice to a new company calledGraffeeti who make a new shoe for kids that you can write on and erase. (How many pairs of shoes did I ruin doing this?) Anyway he was talking about the message on the shoe and he starts talking about the core emotional benefit to your customer using your product.

So often I find that when companies use benefit messages they are talking to the customer in terms of what the product or service does instead of the emotional values. I often say if you give people a big enough reason why they will figure out the how. What I mean is give customers the end result of what they will gain in using your product or sevice on an emotional (not a logical level). In turn they won’t need to know what the product does or how it does it they will figure that out for themselves. The bigger you can make the emotional benefit to the individual the more valuable you will be to them. Let me give you a great example that applied to me of what I mean.

I am a huge music lover and when I first heard of the Ipod I thought that is nice. Then a friend of mine bought one and showed me how I could have my ENTIRE music collection in my pocket at all times. Now the idea of having that ability there was no wanting an Ipod I simply had to have one. As I was factoring the amount of time I would save never having to find a specific CD, figuring out what I wanted to listen to and the all the time I was wasting withcd cases, cds and loading them in and out of player.

My friend had showed me how much more productive, easier and more enjoyable my life would be with this device. When I saw it I was looking at the how this would hold my music (which doesn’t matter) when he showed me what it would do for my life I focused on the big picture– my enjoyment of music. I would figure out all the hows to get me to the reason why I wanted it. This is why Apple is so good in my book they simply show you how much better your life will be and literally the products sell themselves–how easy is that.

Getting back to “The Big Idea” the inventors talked about this statement on the shoe “Tag your it” and they where talking about the game of tag which was good. However what Donny said was great which was you should be talking about the individuality and the creativity of the end user. Create a great statement on that and those shoes will sell themselves. Here is why –the people taking a quick glance at the shoes don’t realize you could CHANGE the design to fit who you are whenever you wanted to. Well I gotta go “The Big Idea” is on again.

Customer Loyalty–Giving 110% to your customers

20 08 2007

So many companies talk about how important their customers are to them yet so few of they actually show it. They treat customers as though the customer is completely dependent on them and act as though there is no competition. Since they did a good job once a getting the customers attention that now they don’t have to do anymore work.  Most companies fail at ever getting my business again. The sad part is if they cared just a  little bit and took the time to ask me how I felt about the interaction I might return. No instead these businesses rest on their laurels doingABSOLUTELY NOTHING in terms of customer loyalty.

You shouldn’t be focusing on how you get the job done as a small business owner but instead you should be focused on how the person you did the work for feels about it. You should be showering that person with gratitude so that when they need your services again or maybe somebody they know does  YOUR THE  FIRST  AND ONLY  person or small business they think about recommending or going back to. This Isn’t some pie in the sky philosophy it actually works but only if you take the time to work at it. I know several sales professionals that would blow your mind with the way they get repeat business (including me). If you look at all of us the we have the same goal “it doesn’t matter to us if we did a good job however if our customer feel we have done a good job that we have been successful” Now notice there I DIDN’T say that we sold more than others , that we earned more in commissions, or that we sold a lot to each customer. Regular sales people may feel that way but we don’t. If the customer thinks we did a good job only then do I feel I have been sucessful at my job. It has nothing to do with outside goals it purely boils down to one line which is todays lesson.

Asking every of yourself and of the customer “What have I accomplished that has made the lives of the people I serve easier, richer, more meaningful and overall enjoyable life?” Every little thing that any of us do as human beings on this planet is do those things in that question.  Some of us just happen to be lucky enough to be making a living making people lives better. Start realizing and being grateful for those you serve.

Starting a new business in a competitive industry

16 08 2007

I had a friend walk up to me last night after I was done playing pool another passion of mine. He has seen some of the previous consulting work I had done for other small business start ups and asked me a question I get alot. So I figured I’d share this because I’m sure some of my readers may be asking the same thing.I have this idea for a business that I know other people make money at what do I do?What are you doing differently then they are to separate yourself in the potential customers mind? In other words why are people going to choose you over your competition. He then gave me a little info on what business it is  and I gave him some example that he hadn’t thought of yet. A really great question I love to ask people to help them with this concept is the oppposite minded. What need is not being met by the businesses right now that you could fill? What is it that you see other companies NOT doing that you have a passion toward?I call it looking for the gaps and if you find a gap big enough you can have a amazing business. So often though people have such enthusiam for starting the new business which I commend. They don’t stop and ask if the need is already being met. So why be one of many when you can create a new alternative? Business that ask if what can they do better than those already out their are the one with people beating a path to their door.This is a tried and true concept of the USP unique selling point. Which you find out what makes you business unique even in a crowded industry. Your businesses “voice” is what potential customers are going to use to decide if they will do business with you or not let me give you a great example of what I mean.The other day I went out to rent the movie “Wild Hogs” at Blockbuster they wanted $4.50 for a two day rental I thought that was a little crazy and didn’t know if I could watch if that night so I walked out. Before I went home I stopped at Hollywood video and they had it same price and same movie but one BIG difference to me. They had a five day rental at $4.50 BUT if I was done with it tommorow and I bought it back that would credit $1 to my account. Instead of punishing me for not watching the movie fast enough  (the late fees at blockbuster) Hollywood video would REWARD me for getting it back to them sooner BUT I the customer was in control and didn’t have too (I could keep it for 5 days it’s only a buck). So now im changing my habits because of how I felt like the getting back the rental was more important to Blockbuster than me then customers EXPERIENCE. Hollywood gets the visits first and probrably the majority of my rental income because of this shift. I made my decision because of each businesses voice and what each was saying to me.

Five Guys Burgers –the best mission / customer statement ever

15 08 2007

It’s not a secret that I LOVE 5 Guys Burgers and Fries.

However besides the BEST burgers they have one of the best business models I have ever seen. I will break down all the little things they do into a few posts because as simple as they are they are the most profound ideas I have ever seen for any business.

Most of the ideas has to do with the expectations that 5 guys has for the customer experience. They value the customer and they let them know it by showing it as well as telling it to them. Basically they back up their words with action. They let you know what the priorities are as you will see. It’s one of the greatest things I have ever seen. If you ever get a chance go to a five guys and before you eat look at this amazing business model. These five guys are the poster child for customer value and  loyalty.

EVERY SINGLE BUSINESS ON THE PLANET that serves customers should be using this statement in ALL areas of their company.

This is posted on the soda machine –the first place you go after ordering your food(I am going to ask 5 guys to post the actual sign but until I get approval here’s the wording)

Thank You Customers

You the customer are the most important visitor on our premises.You are not dependent on us, we are dependent on you. You are not an outsider in our business –you are a part of it. We are not doing you a favor by serving you– you are doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so.

Thank You

Five Guys

If you live that mission statement I will tell that you’ll be ahead of over 90% of your competition and at least 97% ahead of all businesses. Remember it’s real easy to say but takes a serious mindset change and dedication to action to live it.  Did I mention the five guysi’ve been in are always busy and I’ve had to gladly wait in line for the best burgers? I think their revolutionary model is absolutely working.  TheyLIVE AND BREATH the customer is first and i’ll show you more later.


Customer Appreciation #2-The most meaningful way to say “Thank you” to your customers

12 08 2007

This one is really simple but still so profoundly powerful. Everybody on this planet that I have met up to this point they want to feel important and like their life while they are here has meaning. I sure as heck know I do and I have pretty good idea that you do to. So the best thing you can do for a customer might not even to be to give back to them directly. WHAT?!?! Tom you’ve lost it—I can hear you now. However hear me out you are going to be glad you did.

Let me start off this idea with an example of a great friend of mine Helen who is an animal lover or should I say activist. This woman who is in her 70’s defends the rights of animals that are being abused by their owners because they can’t defend themselves. <On a personal note–She is the reason that when I found a kitten that was left to die by her previous owners I was NOT about to let that happen and she’s healthy and on my lap as I type this>. Now this woman’s passion on the subject was simply amazing to me and helped me to open up my view of the world. She is one of those people that is so giving she would never even think of having you buy her a present.

I wanted to show her how much she meant to me (no I didn’t buy her a cat LOL) I gave a donation to the organization that helps animals in need the SPCA in her name. When she got the thank you from that she was on the verge of tears. She said “Tom that is the most thoughtful thing anybody has ever given me –THANK YOU”. I might add whenever I’m in her company and probably more when I’m not and I meet one of her friends she says this is my friend Tom Titlow and listen to what he gave me she there by launches into the story of that gift. Did I do it to draw attention? NO. Did I expect her to brag about it? NO. I was only trying to give a gift that would be meaningful to her.

However I took this idea and I applied it to my business. I did one thing that has worked like a charm to make my customers feel extremely appreciated, important and valued as human beings instead of just as my customers. This thoughtful approach has earned me many repeat sales. Do I do it for that reason? NO, but it is a nice bonus. The real reason I did it was to show how grateful I am to my customers for giving me the opportunity to serve them.

So instead of having sales I let them know up front if that I will donate any of the dollars off to what is their # 1 non profit organization. Now of course I make the donation in the customers name and nobody has ever told me no. Several have asked me if I would do the same for a second or a third sale? At this point I like to disappoint them (just for a second) and I tell them no unfortunately it is not good on the next sale……..pause, pause,pause I will be donating MORE to them with that purchase. Of course we both have a nice chuckle.

There are several times where I never mention a sale or discount and it works better. I just off- handed ask what organization means the most to them or I figure it out in conversation and I make the donation without their knowledge. Which then of course has them scratching their head asking “why did he do that if he didn’t have to?” In my mind I did have to because anything I can do to show my customers appreciation and how important they are to me is an absolute necessity whether I ever see them again or not.

Start donating on your customers behalf and watch how it impacts your business in every area.