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October 6, 2016
October 6, 2016

Small business owners must always strive to do better; even the most successful ones should make improvement a top priority. Q4 is the perfect time to commit to enhancements. Keep your list of modifications small but focused, and inspire diligence by creating goals and setting a timeline for improvement. Trust me, you already have all the tools necessary to make modest but meaningful changes with employees and customers, and to your bottom line.

Here are my top five tips on how to make relevant adjustments to your business, starting now.

1. Remember Your Best Customers. The best way to wow your customers in the 4th quarter is to remember them. Create a database of your valued regulars that states their personal preferences (food, drink, sports teams), the names of their family members, their birthdays, and their spending history. Then, use this list! Ask about your client’s daughter by name; send a holiday card to your client with a warm greeting; send an email when their team wins the big game; or give them a ring when you have a new product available that they might enjoy. When you remember your best customers, you are treating them like valued people in your life. When people feel considered, they will feel cared for, and they will associate these good feelings with you and your business all year long. 2. Focus on Incremental Sales. When giving a directive to “increase sales,” you must be specific. Stimulate sales by asking your team to sell a particular product by a certain time (by 5pm) or in a specific amount (each person should sell 5 of an item when the usual number is 4). Then track your sales totals. In the restaurant business, servers are regularly tasked with selling the most of a particular bottle of wine or a certain dessert. And, throughout the service they try and one-up each other and keep a running tally of the totals. This keeps it fun and friendly on the team side, and helps move product and increase sales on the business side. Even selling a side of fries helps the bottom line because additional sales add up, every single day. 3. Say Less to Your Customers. Beware of giving too much context to your customers. Phrases such as “It’s her first day on the job,” or “We just got this system installed,” are begging forgiveness from your customer for the wrong reason. Why would you put someone so green in front of your customers or use a new system without training the staff or testing it first? Don’t offer excuses; be proactive. Instead of “It’s her first day,” offer “I’m so glad Maria called me over to help you, let’s see what I can do.” It’s a more proactive approach and doesn’t throw Maria under the bus. 4. Get Comfortable with Customer Service. Training and role-play are essential for helping your team members develop their skills in problem resolution. But don’t just have them come up with scenarios and solutions on their own. Create roles and situations that help your team members develop skills regarding specific topics or scenarios. Offer those playing the role of “customer service rep” some options for service recovery so that they can practice proven methods for successfully helping a customer. This will help them improve their mode of communication and help them gain facility in addressing the issues your customers face. 5. Start with You. The mood of the managers and owner dictates the culture and service of your company. This means you have to operate at 100% awareness and demonstrate diligence all day. Set yourself up for success by staying aware of your needs during your shift. Make sure you are hydrated and well fed; hands-on customer service is very active, and you must be energetic and aware as you work with your team and with your customers. Turn this attention on your staff as well; make sure your team members take breaks and have time to rest, recover, and restore themselves between shifts. Everyone must come to work energized and ready to be there for your customers.


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