The wheels come off!

A good friend of mine wanted a new head torch for her cycle helmet and so popped along to the local branch of Moore’s Cycles; she had shopped there before.

Unfortunately, they were just closing but the person on the door was really helpful, gave her a couple of ideas, and suggested that she call in the morning just to confirm that they had them in stock, so she didn’t waste her time coming to the store only to find they were out of stock.

The next day she called and asked the person who answered what head torches they had in the shop. It wasn’t the same person who had been so helpful the evening before – and what a difference.

This person had no interest in advising on head torches, let alone checking which ones they might have in stock. Instead they suggested checking on their website and then calling them back to see if they held the one she wanted.

Being somewhat taken aback she hung up and went online. It didn’t take long on the Moore’s website to pick the one that best suited her. But then the obvious thing happened. She checked the price from other suppliers. And guess what?! She could buy exactly the same head torch somewhere else but for 25% less. Moore’s Cycles had lost a sale and, more importantly, possibly a long-term customer.

This was all because of two very different members of staff and I wonder just how much other business this unhelpful member of staff is costing Moore’s.

If you have staff, any staff, that have customer contact, do you know how they portray, not only your company, but also themselves? If not, you could have staff, just like Moore’s, that are costing you a great deal of money.

My new Park Run top

Recently a friend wanted to buy a new running top; she had a particular style and colour in mind. In the first shop she tried, when asked if they had anything in stock to match, the sales assistant showed her everything but what was asked for. It came across as if it was her fault that she didn’t fit the styles that they had. Needless to say, she left empty handed.

The next shop she tried asked if she was looking for anything in particular, and when told, they showed her two things that matched exactly. The assistant then suggested another item that my friend might be interested in. Again it looked great.

In the end my friend spent over £200.00 on three, not one, pieces of running kit. Why? Because the assistant was interested in her, listened, and only offered items that would interest her. He wasn’t going to try and sell her just what he had in the shop.

What can we learn from this story? Well, the first shop didn’t make a sale, but, more importantly, has lost a customer for life. Whereas the second shop made a sale of over £200.00, and has gained a customer that will be going back.

So, in your business, is your service losing you both sales and long term business, or making extra sales and fans that will return again, and again, and recommend you to their friends?

If it’s the latter I’m sure your business will go from strength to strength, but if the former I would be rather worried.

A Tale of Two Dinners

Not so long ago I went out to dinner at a local restaurant; it was my first visit there. The waiting staff  were nice and friendly, there was a good feel to the restaurant, and the menu looked interesting. In the end I decided to try their fish stew – and what a fabulous choice it turned out to be.

It was beautiful. Real chunks of at least three types of fish, a nice big langoustine, half-a-dozen mussels or so, a lovely rich soup and lots of lovely toasted bread to soak up the juices. All together a real treat.

Recently, I was in the area again and having had such a good meal on my first visit decided to dine at the same restaurant. After having a long hard look at the menu, and not being able to decide on which of the tempting dishes to try, and, as it was so good the first time, I went for the fish stew again. How I wish I hadn’t.

It looked similar: large langoustine, lovely tomato coloured soup, but that was as far as it went. There were plenty of mussels, about three times as many as on the first occasion, but some weren’t very good, only one piece of fish (bony) and just two bits of toasted bread. Nowhere enough to soak up the lovely juices – only the juices weren’t quite as tasty – and so I ended up leaving most of the soup.

So what has this to do with your business?

Well, I will never have the fish stew again, as I can’t be sure if it will be good or bad, and I don’t want to be disappointed, but worse, I may not even visit the restaurant again.

And this is what it has to do with your business. Does your business provide a service, an experience, which is consistent? Put another way, do your customers know exactly where they stand? Because if not you could be losing business without even realising it. Let’s face it, I’m not going to go back to the restaurant and tell them I might not be back; I just won’t go again.

The thing about the consistency of your offering is that it doesn’t have to be just about the big things. It could be the way your telephone is answered, or not answered. It could be the way that your customers are met at reception. It could be whether your invoices arrive at the same time each month. It could be how quickly you return a phone call.

What’s important is that your customers have an expectation, and whatever that might be, they will be a happier customer if they can count on their expectation being fulfilled consistently.

After all, it’s why the Big Mac is such a success! You know exactly what you are getting every time you order one.

Did you tidy your office today?

Ask my staff and on 99 out of 100 hundred days they would tell you that my office needs a good sort out.  I admit that it could to with a tidy up from time to time, but strangely I know where everything is and can lay my hands on anything I need in seconds.  Oddly, this is something I can’t do if papers are neatly filed away.  But yes, I do admit, there are occasions when even I would accept that my office needs to be tidied.  You really can’t work effectively if things are in a real mess.

But enough about my office, I want to talk about yours.

My question is more by way of example than really wanting to know if you tidied up your office today.  You see all too many business people spend far too much time putting off what really would make a difference to their business in order to do, well almost anything else. Tidy the office, create a new filing system, design a new spreadsheet for the petty cash, make a long list of people to call. You know the type of thing I mean.  We’ve all done it.  We have all convinced ourselves that these things are really vital and will make a difference to our lives.  And, of course they will, but not in the way we actually want.

Why do we do it?  Well, the things that are going to have the biggest effect on our success are hard, and sometimes even unpleasant.  So we put these difficult things off and do other ‘important’ things like tidying the office instead.

So, if your business isn’t moving in the direction you want, as fast as you would like, be tough on yourself and list the ‘important’ jobs you have done in the past few days, against the really important jobs that need to be done to move your business forward.

Actually picking up the phone today and calling even a few people will have a much more dramatic effect on your business than having a long list of people you could call another day.

Do you press the button?

I was listening to Radio 5 Live recently: the programme on allowed listeners to have a rant.  When they were finished the presenters gave them a score: top score being the Rant of the Week!

Well, one guy explained how he couldn’t understand why people had to press buttons that he had obviously already pressed.  He gave a couple of examples: waiting for a lift and at road crossings.  I have to say it amazes me when people press the button at road crossings even when there is not a car insight.

The thing is that people are programmed to do all kinds of stuff without thinking.  We all do hundreds of things every day without a moment’s thought.  But, and this is really important, what don’t you do because it would mean having to think differently?

My bet is that you really want to grow your business. but that marketing your business everyday (as it should be) is not automatic.  So, the big question is how long does it take for something to become automatic?  Like most things there is no hard and fast answer.  Research shows that it can be anything from one to eight months and I bet it has a great deal to do with what sort of person you are, how old you are, but, bottom line, how much you really want to do it.

So, how about trying this?  Write in your diary, right now, ‘Marketing’ every day for the next month and see how long it takes to become automatic.