Maybe you’re one of the best in your industry, but no one knows about you. Or perhaps people do know about you, but they’re either unaware of your business, or a little scared of either you or your place of work. If this sounds a bit silly, think about the time you may have gone into a hair salon where the owner was smoking, or perhaps an old book store or coffee shop where the proprietor had a cat or dog that was more at home than the customers. For a lot of people, these are environmental things that just aren’t appealing – and these people won’t come back to a place of business that does things they don’t like. This means taking care of your clients will always improve your bottom line, and it’s also part of maintaining a healthy business image.
Of course, many people who are self-made or well-established are either so good that others are sometimes willing to overlook their eccentric behaviours (rarely), or financially well off to a point that they just don’t care if clients are willing to overlook their oddities or not (more often). However, many new business owners don’t realise the difference between their new business and someone who’s been in business at the same place their whole life. Instead these aspiring new business owners see someone living what they imagine to be the dream of self-employment. They unfortunately do not realise the costs of that dream, or the sacrifices it takes to get there.
Here are five things you can do to make sure your business sells itself, making money while you’re at it and avoiding some of the most common new business mistakes.
1) Client Comfort: While this can be different from business to business, there’s a recurring theme that you can find across all business, and that’s how comfortable clients are. For example, when you walk into any good hair salon, they’ll offer you tea, water, soda, or a real coffee (espresso, latte, etc.). These are quality products they are offering, which don’t cost them much, but immediately show any customer that their comfort is a top concern of the management. As a bonus, instilling this type of behaviour in employees will encourage them to respect customers and your brand image more than they otherwise might.
2) Client Respect: Comfort and respect are often misunderstood by employees who aren’t aware of the nuances of top-level business service – and much of the UK has bad service, at least according to the BBC. You can change this though, and win business by doing it. Where comfort is how a client feels, respect involves the way they are interacted with – both in person and by actions. To use the salon example given earlier, employees would not be using their phone, chatting casually, or otherwise elevating themselves to the level of clients. While this may seem petty, and most people would deny that they felt ‘ignored’ by employees paying attention to trivial things, the fact is that we all like to feel important. Establishments that make clients feel that way will always get repeat business. Respect is a very large part of what goes into making someone feel important.
3) Facility Cleanliness: While it may seem obvious that your place of business should be clean, different people have different standards. Because of this, your standard should always be the highest. That means there should be no pets, no smoking unless it’s bar or restaurant that allows that, and staff should be regularly seen washing their hands. Floors and other public areas should be kept free of dirt and trash. They should also be regularly swept or mopped – but never in a way that disturbs customers. No customer or client should have to walk around the person mopping, or feel bad if they’re walking across a freshly mopped floor.
4) Professional Names: Another big thing that many businesses overlook is how they refer to their patrons. For example we might be inclined to refer to people using our business services as ‘customers’ – which is technically correct. However, unless you’re serving burgers in a McDonalds, they are actually your ‘clients’ and should always be referred to as such. It’s a small difference in term, but by schooling yourself to always say ‘clients’ over any other form of reference, you’ll be making your ‘customers’ feel better about themselves. A customer is someone who is just there to buy something, and they frequent establishments that have the sole purpose of selling things. Clients however have a personal investment in a business, and frequent establishments that cater to their needs and care about them.
5) Sales or Service: The final point of consideration is how you brand what you are doing. If you are selling shoes, that’s a job anyone can do. All they need are some shoes and store from which to sell them. You need to set yourself apart by distancing yourself from the actual sales aspect, and focusing on the service parts. It’s a little known secret, but the wealthy elite considers money to be a dirty thing. It’s a thing that peasants and common folk worry over. There are several reasons for this, but the most simple is that worrying about price tends to lead one down the road of eventually sacrificing quality and service to save a few pounds. By setting fair prices for your products while focusing on the service aspect of your business model, you can avoid this trap and make your clients feel better.
Remember that it does not matter what your business is. People are the same everywhere. They want to feel special, they want to be taken care of, and they want good value for their money. Even if you have an online business you still need to take care of your customers. Of course there will always be a few who argue against that or insist that they don’t need such things and only want the lowest prices. Those are people that you will never please, but thankfully they will never make up the bulk of your business. Don’t let them dissuade you from the necessary steps of taking care of your main clients. Good business with real clients makes good money. Often those who complain the loudest are the ones who contribute the least to your gross receipts.