Four Best Practices All Small Businesses Should Be Doing

We all know that loyal customers fuel our business. It’s easier to retain and drive current customers to use or buy our services than it is to pursue new customers. Most of us think that ‘developing’ loyal customers, means we need to do things, give away things, or manipulate our existing customer base into being loyal. Believe it or not, customers routinely choose good service, dependability, and excellent customer service over price. It’s estimated that over 85% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.1 If you are consistently authentic, fair, honest, and dependable to your customers, their repeat business will naturally follow. The following eBook will identity four best practices small businesses can use to separate themselves from the competition and build a more loyal customer base.

1
Build Better
Relationships

Where would we be without relationships? As a small business owner, you took great care when starting your company, treating every customer as a star. You nurtured those customers with extreme dedication to meeting their needs. In turn, you built a network of satisfied customers by personally focusing on your customer base. Isn’t that the kind of attention and relationships all customers seek and value?

As your business grew, it’s possible that you had less and less time to nurture those relationships. You get busy. It’s hard to keep up with demand, and the time was previously available to build personal relationships with your customers might not be there. Personally, and professionally, business relationships will help you win.

Routinely ask customers for feedback. Proactively speak with them before and after services are complete. Gauge their level of satisfaction and ask for insight into areas of improvement. Not only will you receive great first party feedback, you will also give your customers a platform to express themselves – valuing their opinion.

Separate yourself from the pack by offering more value. Take time to fully explain issues or problems, what causes them, and offer recommendations on products/ services they should consider – and the benefits/detractors of each option. Present customers with multiple options to solve the problem if they are available (even if there are cheaper alternatives).

Almost 80% of customers do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences.5 Whether it is an easy to use website, picking up the phone to call a customer, or sending handwritten letters thanking a customer for their business, customers appreciate your personal effort to connect with them.

Has your worker ever shown up to a job to find the customer is not ready for service? The customer apologizes and either promises to reschedule (and doesn’t), or they rush home (keeping your technician/crew waiting). By routinely sending pre-appointment reminders you can ensure customers are ready to accept services. But don’t just stop there, these pre-appointment calls are another avenue to help personalize your service.

Always ask the customer if they have experienced any additional issues since they first scheduled their appointment. This is an obvious opportunity to cross-sell or upsell another service. Above all, you can reaffirm that your team will be prepared from the minute they step foot on the job site.

Ask for a point of contact for your serviceman/woman on the day of service. This will help your contact feel like a valued customer, not just another job on your schedule. For commercial jobs, it gives you another contact within the organization that can vouch for your professionalism.

Customers may be particular about their property or place of work. Taking the time to ask where your technicians should park their car, signals that you care about their property as much as they do.

Pets are an extension of your customer’s family. Make sure you go out of your way to accommodate them and keep them safe. Communicate with homeowners if you will need to have pets confined to another area of the house or yard while you’re working.

1. https://www.slideshare.net/RightNow/2011-customer-experience-impact-report 2. http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2013/under-the-influence-consumer-trust-in-advertising.html 3. https://blog.kissmetrics.com/build-a-referral-program/ 4. https://aytm.com/blog/market-pulse-research/honesty-survey/ 5. http://pressroom.epsilon.com/new-epsilon-research-indicates-80-of-consumers-are-more-likely-to-make-a-purchase-when-brands-offer-personalized-experiences/
2
Train, Train,
& Keep Training
Your Employees

Employees who are not properly trained are less efficient, take longer to get their work done, provide poor customer service, and contribute to an unhappy work environment. This all leads to increased turnover, a need to seek and hire new candidates, decreases in profitability and ultimately, more work for you. Train your employees well from day one and continue to foster their development.

Training helps your business run smoother, better, and more effectively.

Trained employees are better equipped to handle customer inquiries, complaints, and requests. They’re also more prepared to make a sale or utilize the existing software or systems within your business.

Training is a recruiting tool.

Today's young workers aren’t as motivated by money as they are purpose. They want careers and employment that allows them to learn new skills. You are more likely to attract and keep good employees if you can offer continued training and development.

Training is a retention tool.

To instill loyalty and commitment, you must consistently invest in your employees. Staff looking for the next challenge are more likely to stay if you offer ways for them grow while at your company. Those who feel stagnate or bored are more inclined to move on.

Training adds flexibility and efficiency.

Cross-train your employees in every aspect of the business to increase their efficiency and understanding of day-to-day operations. Teaching employees to be competent in sales, customer service, administration and operations gives them a multifaceted skillset and can be enormously helpful if you need to cover for an absent employee.

Cross-training protects your company.

If you have an employee with a special skillset that no one else has, you'll have a tough time replacing them should they suddenly leave. Cross training helps ensure you have a safe valve for your business and that you are not hostage to any one employees demands.

Training creates a positive company culture.

When employees are learning new skills, and increasing their own value, they feel more positive about themselves and the company - an attitude that is conveyed to customers as well!

Training gives seasonal workers a reason to return.

Like many seasonal companies, you may see a demand for your services spike during certain times of the year. Rather than hiring new seasonal workers every year, offer paid training throughout the year for seasonal help willing to commit to an upcoming season.

Reward your star employees.

According to a recent study, employers spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary to find and train their replacement.7 It’s better to reward good employees and keep them, than incur expenses to hire new ones. New hires entail your that business spend more man-hours training and lower level of production until everyone is “up to speed”.

6. https://blog.accessperks.com/2016-employee-engagement-loyalty-statistics 7. http://www.enrich.org/blog/The-true-cost-of-employee-turnover-financial-wellness-enrich
3
Keep Up with
& the Trends in
Your Industry

They want outdoor kitchens, man caves, larger, bigger, better appliances, and more outlets to power all their new electronics. They need painters, electricians, plumbers, designers, landscapers and a variety of providers to make their dreams happen. So, keep up with the trends in your industry so you can be part of that demand for service. More importantly, keep up with what improvements your customers are making now so you can anticipate what services they’ll need in the future. For instance, when customers start adding rooms, patios, decks, electricity, gas lines, plumbing, etc. to their home, they’re thinking ahead - and you should be too. Ask them what they’re planning to add to their home over the next five years so you can install the right pipes, gas lines, and power that will accommodate their demands down the road.

4
Be Professional

In a survey of more than 3,500 customers of Service Nation Alliance members, respondents were asked what made them uncomfortable about a service provider. The No. 1 response was “poor grooming”.8 Customers expect a clean, neatly dressed, employee to arrive in an organized, clean service vehicle. Set the expectation that your employees meet this standard. Consider investing in uniforms, even if only a polo shirt or sweatshirt with your company name and logo on it. A national survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates found customers are more inclined to do business with employees who wear uniforms because they stood out as competent and knowledgeable professionals.9

Reasons Businesses Opt To Have A Uniform Programs For Their Workers

Create an attractive business image

Perception is reality. Selecting an appropriate employee uniform can immediately establish a professional image that attracts customers.

Promote your company or brand

Employees with uniforms that display corporate logos and colors, create a recognizable brand image that customers assimilate with.

Free advertising

Well-designed work uniforms worn in public become “walking billboards,” promoting a company’s products and services “for free.”

Protect workers

Uniforms can improve safety. Flame resistant (FR) workwear, steel toed boots, or high visibility uniforms keep employees safe and looking professional.

Improve security

Company uniforms featuring specific styles or colors quickly identify who does or does not belong in specific work areas or on job sites.

Foster team spirit

Work uniforms promote a sense of team spirit and a sense of belonging. This, in turn, can improve worker productivity.

Employee benefit

Employer provided uniforms save employees money, and when provided as part of a Rental Program, eliminate employee laundering time and expense.

Promote company pride

Work uniforms can instill a sense of pride and responsibility and can convert employees into “brand ambassadors” outside of the workplace.

8. https://www.pmmag.com/articles/97927-tips-to-boost-plumber-sales 9. http://www.unifirst.com/company/press-releases/top-10-benefits-of-employee-uniforms/

small businesses have a definitive presence in the marketplace. Although they are not funded by large capital investments and can’t rely on an absorbent amount of resources to achieve their goals, they do have a unique platform that (if utilized correctly) can make them wildly successful. They key for any small business is to focus on internal factors to drive grow. By devoting time to build better relationships, properly training and invest in workers, keep up with industry trends, and deliver a professional brand image, small businesses can separate themselves from the competition. This personal touch and devotion helps your business connect with customers on a more intimate level. By treat customers with the right balance of dependability and honesty, you can propelled one-time jobs to a lifelong brand advocate.

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