Published on Medium: https://medium.com/@sharonorsacklang
Stop a minute and think about the small businesses in your local area you use. What do you like, or don’t like, about them?
Is one of those businesses yours? What do you think people say about it?
Small businesses are essential to our economy, and running one is hard work. Owning a small business myself, even though it is very small, it’s still a business, and without customers, I have nothing, so doing it right is imperative.
There are no shortcuts and very little room for error; making sure it’s smooth sailing for you and your customers (or clients), so here are a few tips you may find beneficial.
Benefits of Having a Clean Establishment
A tidy place is a happy place. Keeping up the appearance of your building sends a message of how you want customers to see your business.
Whether people walk in or drive by, a clean establishment radiates how much you care for your business’ success and reputation.
Our local Italian restaurant moved into a building that used to be a Chinese restaurant. Several years later, it still looks like a Chinese restaurant, and the bushes around it are dead now. The food is good, but the outside lacks appeal. So, in this case, people judge a book by its cover.
That story reminds me of this next one.
I once needed to find a new hairstylist. Mine had moved to New York, and even though there were tons of them to choose from, I preferred one who took professional development seriously.
After desperation set in, I went to one that was suggested to me but soon knew it was a mistake.
Her station was cluttered with dusty knickknacks, tools, and bottles and bottles of products. Her old, used hairbrushes sat next to me in her roll-around cart, which desperately needed cleaning and organization.
These things are not okay for a customer-oriented business. The hairstylist was a nice lady, but she needed to pay attention to the details.
Most people like to see a well-organized, clean place, and this gal must have thought it didn’t make a difference but, believe me, it does.
Take Being Professional Serious
Employees at any business or company should be as professional as possible, especially those that work with the public. There are customers like me who analyze the tone of voice, professional language, and training.
Customers care about how friendly a person’s voice sounds. You don’t need to be all sugary, and toss rose petals around, but you do need to sound cordial and professional if you want to serve the person you are speaking to well.
If an owner or an employee doesn’t want to deal with a customer, we feel it. Afterward, we may tell our friends what we thought about the whole experience.
I think using correct grammar is essential, at least most of the time. For example, twang is fine but saying things like, she don’t and ain’t you never does not leave a very good impression.
While I’m here, the words You Bet and No Problem instead of You’re Welcome aren’t the best ways to sound professional, either. So reply instead with a solid Thank You, and You’re Welcome. They are two specific words that work magic.
Answer all questions honestly, and say so if you don’t know the answer. Then, find out the answer and call your customer, as you promised.
I once left my phone number with an employee at a local nursery for them to call me when their Hibiscus bushes came in, which was supposed to be the following week. But, did I ever receive the phone call? No. So, I went to another nursery.
Training Your Employees Well Translates Into More Profit
Customers expect the boss to know what they’re doing, but what about the employees? Well-trained employees are representatives of your business.
They should know as much as possible before they are pushed out to serve. If the employees are knowledgeable, their confidence will show, which translates well to customers.
I see small businesses all the time throw employees out into their customer ocean and expect them to swim gracefully. This is unfair to an employee and can make a customer uncomfortable.
A side note to keep in mind is that each employee will have a unique learning style. Some people will learn slower than others, but these differences do not make one smarter than the other, one more loyal than the other, or harder working. There are always diamonds in the rough.
One tip worth investing in is hiring employees before you get desperate for help. This method will give wiggle room to train an employee well, which can do wonders for your profits, but be careful who you hire. Match their personality to your business.
My husband and I visited St. Jo, Texas, about an hour from our hometown, one cold but sunny afternoon. We ended up at Blue Ostrich Winery, where a friendly young man behind the counter engaged us in conversation.
We answered a few of his questions, and he answered some of mine. He said he’d been working there a while and loved it. He was going to college to be an endocrinologist. He was very friendly, genuinely smiling, and acted like we were the only customers he spoke to that day.
As he poured our wine and took us to our afternoon seating area, we kept chit-chatting, not forced chit chat, but naturally conversed. He made the perfect ending to our afternoon outing because he kept a pleasant smile and a friendly voice.
Because of him, we stayed for a while to sit in their courtyard and enjoy the quiet afternoon. It was more money for Blue Ostrich, and we didn’t mind one bit. He’s an excellent example of the right kind of hire.
These tips may seem trivial but paying attention to details is just as important as dealing with the more significant aspects of your business. This makes owning a business both hard work and rewarding, too. It’s like getting a piece of chocolate on your pillow when you’re on vacation. Of course, we could do without it, but it does make a nice touch.