As a small business owner for about 8 years, I am amazed we have grown year after year, but I am even more blown away by how easily it can be to separate yourself from others in business. What seems to be basic business practice is not that way to everyone. I am not trying to get on my soap box or act self-righteous, but I want to share with you what I think has helped us most.
To guarantee the success of your business, go back to that poster about being a Kindergartner. Remember that one? Share with others, play fair, clean up your own mess, say sorry when you hurt someone, live a balanced life … It all comes down to the basics; though I would like to add one more to that poster: Do what you say you are going to do!
Again I am amazed how easy and yet how hard it is to do those things. Do we all do it perfectly, all the time? Of course not! But you have to go through your business and personal life with some accountability.
Below are my favorite and most SIMPLE things to make a part of your everyday life. Doing these with a whole heart (thank you Brene Brown for being born) will result in success, growth of your business and credibility of who you are as a business leader.
- Respond quickly to your customers! I was talking to a potential client this last week and she said she called one our competitors twice and have never heard back. Has this ever happened to you? You are calling to give them money, and you don’t hear back. That blows me away!
- Call people within 8 hours of the initial call; however I am more comfortable with 2-3 hours.
- Follow up. If you don’t get them the first time, give them a day or two and call again – they want your service. One time I got a call from a gal who left her first name and phone number I called a few times and didn’t hear back, so I kept trying here and there. I finally got her and she turned out to be Rosalee Calvert, the actress on Grimm who wanted to bring our service in as a special treat for the crew and “Nick” (played by David Giuntoli) because it was his birthday! That one event turned into several events on the set of Grimm. Following up pays off.
- Do what you say you are going to do!* If you have issues with this one, start by NOT making huge promises that you know are going to be difficult to fulfill. When I bring on a new Barista, I tell them to concentrate on just being friendly and serving great coffee. Then, after they are comfortable with that I have them start learning people’s drinks and making connections. Lastly I have them look for marketing opportunities and put the sprinkles on top. But if I had them do all of that at the beginning, I feel like it would be too much and they wouldn’t be able to complete all of those tasks.
- Start with small promises/challenges and then add more.
- Make due dates a little farther out, and then surprise them when it arrives early.
- If you say you are going to deliver a certain level of service – do it!
- If you have committed to a group or being a Board Member – go all the way!
*Not doing what you have committed to, will have your credibility in the gutter.
- If you mess up, FIX it! If you are a human, you are going to mess up. Good news is that everyone can relate with a mess up or two, bad news is that it is going to happen. It is all in how you fix it. My rule of thumb is that the person who is on the end of the screw up, should feel like they “won” in the end – like they were almost glad it happened. We had our kitchen remodelled and things went wrong. But every time something happened, I was given choices, which were great, and I got a built-in wine rack out of the deal. I was thrilled! My focus was on how they made it right, not what went wrong.
These three things are simple, but are you doing them? If you are – good for you and I would LOVE to do business with you. If you aren’t, you might want to ask yourself, “Why?” It might be because you need additional support staff or you may just need to go back to the kindergarten poster. You might be leaving money on the table. A good exercise is to look at how much of your business is repeat. We recently started tracking this and we are at an average of 80% repeat. I believe that is a direct result of consistently doing what we say we are going to do, quickly responding to customers’ needs and fixing and mess-ups we make make.
I truly believe there is enough business out there for all of us, and being cognizant of what’s most important will inevitably set you apart in the business community, creating a domino effect of success.
Wishing you much success,