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July 15, 2016

Service is the key to keeping clients for ever.

There seems to be a lot of talk about service lately, or more importantly about the lack of it. Both large and small businesses are cutting back in areas of service for reasons of cost cutting and higher profits, but what they don't seem to realise is that cutting "service quality" is the quickest way to reducing sales, reducing income and reducing profit.

In this age of internet, businesses are starting to think that the concept of servicing clients can be achieved the same way with little or no contact and turning to text, email or click here for an answer? However, myself and a lot of others don't agree.

If you'd like to know the easiest way to attract more clients, keep them for much longer if not forever, then listen closely.... service is the answer.

Everyone I ask likes good service and dislikes bad service - its as simple as that. No service or little service, doesn't increase customer loyalty or sales. However I'm pretty sure, from what I've done over the last 22 years, that more service quality, better relationships and face to face contact, does result in long term clients dealing with you much more and subsequently spending more.

Over the last couple of weeks I've had instances of businesses not calling me back, preferring for me to contact them if you want us to supply to you. Professionals not picking up the phone, preferring instead email as the preferred option. Even a bank told me I'm not big enough, so I don't warrant personal attention in one aspect of my account even though my business and all my accounts had been with this bank for over 20 years? Are we losing the plot?

Rather than pickup a phone, we are using cloud based services to engage professionals and get agreement on services. If you want to make an appointment, you can't ring, you have to go onto a website and look at where their vacant times are. Let's not get started with medical insurance, if you can't do it online, then you just can't do it! Is that service?

I remember once when you actually dealt with the manager in your local bank when you needed something, now it's an email via an interstate head office that may get returned by email a few days later.

Are we becoming immune to personal service, do we actually think that email and text are ok and regarded as service, or do we deep down inside hate it and just don't want to appear like the only one complaining? Well this isn't a complaint, but it probably should be - everyone wants service. If you actually really want to stand out, stand apart from your competition and leave them behind in your dust, simply take a proactive service WOW mentality in your business, the guy next door won't know what's going on. Here are a couple of ideas and reasons why.

1: Remember people's name. It makes people feel special, they believe you care (even though they know it's a system in the business). You do it, the others don't! Regardless if you buy a coffee once a week from a pop up coffee shop, or you get your car serviced every six months, deal with clients the right way.

2: Build the database. If someone comes in, makes an enquiry, or buys from you, the only way you can get them back, is if you know who they are. Get their details, give them a loyalty card, ask them to put their business card in a draw, or get them to fill in their details to go into a draw to win a weeks free coffee, just do it. You now have some of the control.

3: Follow-up. If they've bought once, they'll probably buy again, and if they don't, then you would probably want to ask why right? It doesn't matter what you sell, or do, follow up every person that ever buys, ask them are they happy with the purchase, inform them of new stock, invite them in again for a special deal, or bring a friend and get 20% off. They'll come back.

4: Build a relationship. We all want to feel special. Walk into a restaurant and they greet you by name and ask would you like your usual table, the usual bottle of wine? My wife and I go to a Chinese restaurant locally and the girl their doesn't know our name, but knows the wine we drink, and the dishes we like. Imagine what would happen if she knew our name and used it.

5: KIT! Keep in touch. Ask them to come back, buy again, refer others and guess what? They will. Every business should have some kind of information system, a newsletter, an app, a loyalty program. Something that educates you what and how to use it, or invite you to a special event. Email, websites and apps make it so easy, why not post something out, a letter, a card, a printed newsletter. The cost of a dollar for postage is a small cost for the ongoing lifetime value of a customer and their repeat business.

It's a fact, that around 80% of people that leave to go to another supplier, do so for no other reason than a perceived lack of indifference - they thought you didn't care. Or in other words, there was no service.

The easiest way to grow a business, is to keep an existing client, get them coming back more often and asking them to refer others to do the same. In fact it's six times more expensive to find a new one in comparison to holding onto an established one.

Get Smart Now is all about working with our clients and helping them identify the areas that make a huge difference in getting a better result, improved sales, greater profit and happier staff and clients that keep coming back.

Get Smart Now about the way you service your clients, change 2 to 3 things about how you deal with them, so that the objective is building a relationship, keeping them coming back and referring others. This is the single easiest way to build a business.

It's the little things that can make a big difference.

What comes first, the chicken or the egg? In business, it’s a little clearer than that old joke. The starting point is “image” - image always comes first.  Your image is what makes someone stop and look at your business, make the first call, click on your website or even walk in. If your image doesn’t reflect what you do or sell, then there’s a pretty good chance they’ll keep walking.

It amazes me how often you walk past a business that obviously doesn’t care about their image, even if their image does such a bad job of promoting what they do. I saw a sign writer recently whose signs were so badly faded you could hardly make out the phone number. Wouldn’t you think it was time to renew, especially if that’s what you do?

It’s the little things that can make a huge difference, and if you know what
are then get them right first.

You could spend an absolute fortune on marketing, advertising, local area sponsorship and more, and have potential customers turn around the minute they look at you, your staff, or your business. It’s all about first impressions. So why not get them right?

The objective here is simple, if we have a product, a location,
astore front, whatever, let’s at least do everything we possibly can to attract every potential customer.  Then when they walk in, hold onto them so there’s no chance they will go elsewhere. It’s one of the most important aspects of business, and yet it’s the one that so many business get wrong. They miss it totally. Here are a couple of simple things that will make a difference in that first stage of client attraction:

(By the way, whether you actually have a shop front, or are web based, everything below is the same. A poor
websitefront, or a hard to find website, is no different to a business that simply can’t be seen or found because there’s no sign or street number).

1: Shop front. What does it look like? Does
itstandout, does it look like the owners want the business? Is there an effort made to look professional - great signage, smart look, neat, tidy, a place that someone would be happy to walk into? I know people say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but people do! Your product alone, is often not enough.

2: Staff, how do they greet clients (if at all) when they walk in? I don’t know about you, but when I’m standing in a shop, being totally ignored, even if the
staffare doing something else, I get a little impatient. Just say hello! Staff including the owners, should be trained how to greet clients and potential clients the right way - with a smile, be friendly, and do it quickly. Ensure they are presented well, in a business shirt or uniform makes a massive difference, and try using name badges. People love referring to someone by their name, the relationship is already being built.

3: Takeaway and leave
behindinformation. How often do look for a business card, a brochure, or even a takeaway menu at a cafe and they have none, they’ve run out? Sorry I’ve just run out! No you haven’t, you haven’t had them for ages. Business cards, brochures, fridge magnets, all help to keep you in the prospective clients mind, if you don’t have them, they forget you. Business cards are the single cheapest marketing tool available. Every staff member should have them, everyone! And by the way, don’t get them done online just because they’re cheap. Get a quality printed and designed card made for all staff, it will cost you less than $100 but what it could cost you in lost sales is the important part.

4: Keep in touch. Don’t let anyone walk away without getting their details. If they walked in they’re interested. So get their details. If you don’t have some kind of database that they can opt into, then have a fishbowl competition to collect their card, or have a pile of blank cards there to add their details and go into the draw to win something. No one ever says no to the chance of winning something.

First impressions are everything. So make sure you do everything you possibly can to attract, keep that client and then get them back even if they didn’t buy the first time - this is the critical first part of building a better business.

It’s the things that most businesses don’t do that make all the difference in a more successful business. The image, signs, making it easy to
findyou, and keeping in touch. It’s all simple, you just have to do it.

Get Smart Now and the Build a better business program is all about identifying what the things are that a business doesn’t do now and train the owners and staff how to get them right. Once the fundamentals are right, then you can focus on constant improvement anddoing

If you would like to know more about how Get Smart Now can help your business and your team get a better result, just drop us an email or if you’d like more information about our next events, we can help you with that too.

Get Smart Now and get everything right about your image, it’s the little things that you don’t do, that have a big impact on the success of your business

get smart now

July 7, 2016

Like the solution to better staff? Try managing them!

Staffing could be the single biggest frustration that most business owners go through. Recruiting staff, training staff and then getting the best out of their staff takes time and can still result in under performance and disengaged people. Does that sound familiar?

I've had my share of working with staff over the last 28 years. Recruiting and training people in sales, service and administration roles. I've had some sensational successes and some heartbreaking failures. I have also worked closely with hundreds of other businesses and helped them out in the area of staff training, motivation, engagement and reward, and without a doubt there is still one thing that just about every business is guilty of - and that's not managing their people better and doing it from day one.

Knowing how to get the best out of our team and laying down minimum performance standards in all aspects of their role, from the day they walk in the door, is the most important thing you can do.

Here's an interesting statistic - it's been said that the average staff member is engaged in what they're actually doing at work, around 60% of the time! That means they're not doing their job for at least 40% of the time. So more importantly, what are they doing during that 40% and when they are engaged, how effective are they in their role?

Management of our people is one of the most important aspects of getting the best out of our people, and that doesn't mean standing over them with a whip, but it does mean having an understanding of what's done, how it's done, accountability and regular reviews. They have a job to do, so let's do it!

Recently I've seen far too many people in roles that get little training, so they don't know what to do. When someone doesn't know what to do, they do what they can and then don't get reviewed or managed in what they have or haven't done, so they keep doing what they aren't doing! It doesn't make sense! It's even hard to say. If you're ever going to have a staff issue that could get a little ugly, it's more often than not about performance standards that were never outlined or regularly measured and reviewed and then when it comes to a discussion about performance, there's little or no performance history.

Here's a quick guide of just a few things that will definitely get a better result out of your team:

1: Train them well. Far too many staff start a job just doing it, without any basic training. The owners or other staff are busy, so we give them a brief run through and then leave them to it. It doesn't work, clients get frustrated, staff get frustrated and eventually leave. So you blame the staff and you start again. The single biggest reason staff leave, and it's not always money, is lack of training!

2: Performance standards - what we do, how many, objectives and outcomes (even professionalism and how we dress). This is missed so many times. Whatever you do, there's a process. Outline these from day one, then review weekly and daily if needed. If you're not getting the result, do some extra training.

3: Reward and recognition. If you want to get better performance out of staff, recognise the great job they do, then reward it. It doesn't need to be cash, it could be something small, an extra bonus for going above and beyond. If you have a referral process in your business, and this gets new clients into the business, why not reward them for the extra business. If a new client is worth a $1000 a year, why not give a $100 gift card per new sale?

4: Regular review, the good and the bad! Regular reviews are important, they not only want to know we pay attention, they also want to know they are doing the job well, or where do we need to improve. Do they require some additional training?

Without management and setting performance standards, you have anarchy. Might sound a little over the top, but without performance standards you have no control, your staff are in control of what they do and what they don't do.

The idea of building a successful business that continues to grow, produce a great profit and cash flow is all about developing the systems within the business that actually work towards getting the result you want. Not just hoping it will happen!

Managing people starts with outlining what the activity, accountability, strategy and structure of everything we do is and what's actually done. From there we then develop the training, then reward and recognition that follows.

Managing people well, also forces us to ask questions, why we get the result we do and how could we get a better result? It makes everything clearer. As I heard just recently, clarity creates questions, now you just need to work out the answer.

Get Smart Now works with businesses to improve all aspects of their business, that then result in better cash flow, improved profit, more engaged staff and happier clients, that then in turn refer even more clients. That then makes your life better, by eliminating many of the business frustrations like cash flow, staff challenges and lack of customers and part of the solution is managing our people better.

Get Smart Now by deciding today to start managing your business and your people better. Our team don't automatically know what to do all of the time, they like to be told and performance standards do that. Happy, engaged staff, result in happy engaged clients, that in turn builds happy engaged business owners!

June 30, 2016.

The difference between a customer and a client could be as simple as their name!

I like a coffee now and then. I'm not a coffee aficionado, but I know what I like. Most of the time the coffee itself isn't that important, it's more about the place I'm having the coffee at that matters!

I think I've told this story before, but it's worth an update. There's a coffee shop I go to in Adelaide, and I go there for one reason- the lady at the counter remembers my name! This coffee shop has a franchised reward system, so my name comes up in the electronic card and she sees it when it's swiped, but no one at any other franchised store uses my name. Usually you get a "thanks mate!".

The point here is that relationships are still one of the most important aspects of why someone does business with you, its not just the product. The product is often way down the list. But if all you have is the product, then it better be good. But why can't the service and relationship still be there too.

I was at a marketing workshop earlier this week and at one point we had to do a little role play exercise with the small group we were in. The exercise was all about asking the others in the group "what would make you deal with your business or product?". One of the ladies in the group owned a café and another said "if you remembered my name, I'd come back!"

The presenter of the workshop in sheer coincidence mentioned an example of the guy that does his dry cleaning. He remembers his name and uses it the moment he walks in. He travels a lot, but makes sure he keeps his dry cleaning until he gets back just to deal with the guy that knows his name! He likes to feel special - "they know me here".

I caught up with an associate of mine today, we were talking about the small things that make a big difference to businesses. The relationship being one. He deals with a coffee franchise chain that has won the best performing franchisee the last couple of years. One of the things this coffee franchisee does is 'remembers peoples names'. It does make a difference!

Whether you're in the coffee game or not, it's a very competitive world out there. I walked three blocks this week in the city and must have passed thirty cafes, coffee shops, or kiosks that sold coffee. Most of the time, coffee is coffee, but if there's something else attached, like a relationship, you will probably go there and by pass the rest.

Is creating a customer relationship hard to do? No! It's easy, but it's a conscious decision to make this part of the way we deal with our clients. Here's another way to look at it. The customer can be a $4.50 coffee, or a $10,000 plus client (based on two coffees a day over four years!) ($2340 a year, that's near enough to $10,000 in four!)

I'm not really that fussy about my coffee. I drink a skinny latte with caramel, so I'm no connoisseur, but the relationship means a lot. If I'm greeted, or farewelled with my name, and if there's a reward system in place, it's easy and there's no excuse. I feel like it's my place!

Regardless of what you do, sell or make, knowing your clients name and using it, is probably the single easiest and most cost effective way to keep a client coming back again and again and again!

So how do you do that? How do you build a relationship? Well here's a couple of simple ideas:

1: Make it part of the culture. Ensure that every staff member goes out of their way to know a clients name and then uses it. It's not hard to do.

2: Use a rewards system. The rewards system makes it easy to know someone, as long as that's built into the system. A simple database will do.

3: Have a plan B to collect data, not everyone wants to be a rewards member, so ask their name anyway, find a way to record it. Why not use the old fashioned business card draw, it actually still works. Go into the draw to win a free coffee a day! They will still buy another anyway!

Developing relationships is far more than just using a clients name, but it's a great start. And it's big enough to be the point of difference between you and the other thirty cafes, florist shops, copy businesses, or whatever. In this day of social media and being bombarded by thousands of messages a day online, the relationship, the use of our name could possibly be the one thing that stops that client from going somewhere else.

I remember a statistic from quite a few years ago, which said around 78% of all businesses that leave you to go somewhere else, do it for no other reason than perceived indifference. They thought you didn't care! No communication, no follow-up, no relationship. Regardless of the actual number, it's high and the reason is still the same. No relationship.

Get Smart Now is about one thing. Building better people, that in turn build better businesses. It's simple fundamentals that many businesses, business owners and their team have forgotten. Get Smart Now is about ensuring you stand out from your competition by doing all of the things needed better. It's about lifting our game! Being the best!

Get Smart Now, from today, start building relationships with your customers so they turn into clients, advocates and partners. Just start by using their name!