If you want to avoid losing business, there are eight characteristics your business can display that can prevent 50 percent to 90 percent of all losses and none of them will cost you more than the expenses youre already putting out. Id like to share two recent experiences that illustrate one of these characteristics.
I visited a trendy Meridian sandwich shop recently. Its in a lovely location, but it is known for its slow drive-through. I debated whether to enter the line. There was only one person in line, and it had been eight months since my last visit, so I ventured.
I perused the drive-up menu. It seemed the meal combos had changed since my last visit. As I sorted through the menu, I asked the young woman through the speaker: Did they change their menu items?
She answered: I dont know. If they did, they dont tell us anything.
Alarms, red flags, and even a bit of attitude raced wildly through my head.
I knew that the business owners certainly would not want that kind of response representing them. A like it or leave it tone is detrimental to a company seeking repeat visitors. And lets face it: repeat customers are the brass ring for revenue. One-time customers are great, worth embracing, but repeaters provide momentum.
Now contrast this experience with one I had at another sandwich franchise in town. I went to order a sandwich with cheese and no veggies. As a young woman was taking the order, a young male employee was chatting with us as well. Creating conversation is part of this businesss culture. Suddenly, the man chimed in: If you order X and add cheese, youll save about three dollars.
Sold! The young woman eagerly agreed, and we rang up the order.
As it turns out, before being hired for this minimum-wage job, a potential employee must memorize and write out the entire menu and must pass a test on it with an impressive 90 percent grade or no job.
That builds assurance. And if you want to prevent customers from going elsewhere, you must instill the power of assurance in your workers.
Assurance is the knowledge of what is offered and the confidence to deliver it. Its built by providing knowledge to employees, creating a system to ensure that responses like they dont tell us anything are oddities. Its knowing via meetings, reviews or tests that each person is prepared and can self-manage. Its a business owner teaching by example that the customer is a top priority.
Some people may push against this idea, considering problems like I experienced to be isolated or irrelevant. Some business owners may feel they have sufficient business to discount this notion. I hope that if providing assurance for customers has not been a conscious focus of yours that you will consider this a rock turned over. Without a forged effort, a business runs the risk of losing business and not knowing why. A company will never lose by making a concerted effort to care for its customers and employees.
As it stands, one of these franchises is excusing its decrease in traffic, attributing it to settling in and local construction. The other has opened up a couple more locations to manage the increase in patronage.
KARLEEN ANDRESEN: Publisher of the Idaho Womens Journal, marketer and speaker. KarleenAndresen@gmail.com.