Benchmark Business Group

Business Owner Newsletter - Page 32

Not Too Late

The past month we've talked a lot about handling customer service from the stand point of when things are not going right.  We've looked at you not being the first person to provide answers, firefighting, and how things are handled when they go wrong.  All of these are necessary steps for providing excellent service, but in order to provide top of the line customer service, you also need to be thinking about how you can be proactive. Customer service isn't always about handling the day to day or when things go wrong, but about going above and beyond.   


To be proactive in providing extras such as sending out birthday cards, holiday gifts, welcoming packages or just thank you for doing business with us postcards, you must be organized. It's not the fun side of customer service but it is the critical, behind the scenes work necessary to wow your clients day after day. The two main steps for organizing the service you provide to your clients include: ranking and scheduling.

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When Service Stumbles

Without a doubt, there will be a time when your company stumbles and your customer is not happy with the service. This means your employees will need to be prepared to interact with an unhappy customer.  It's easy to make the assumption that your staff knows how to handle an upset customer. That assumption might have some truth to it. They know their way to solve problems, which might include years of bad habits. The question is do they know your way? Sure, they might have even seen how you handle it, but do they know how far they can go to satisfy a client? Can they give the client a discount or refund? If they can, how much can they offer? Do they offer the discount first, or is there something that should happen before getting to that point?

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Training Firefighters

Imagine this scenario: Before leaving for vacation, you leave instructions with your staff, "Do not call me unless there is an emergency."  A day into your vacation your phone rings and it's an employee saying that Client X needs you to call them back.  You ask if it's an emergency.  The employee assures you that it is indeed an emergency.  So you take time away from your vacation and call the client back, only to find out it's a simple request that your staff not only can handle, but must handle since you are out of the office.


It's easy to assume that either your employee or your client is calling wolf.  From your point of view, especially since you're on a much needed vacation, this wasn't an emergency.  From the employee's point of view they asked the client very directly, "is this an emergency?"  When the client said yes the employee simply followed your instructions.  From the client's point of view this day to day task was an emergency.  They need it done today whether you're in the office or not.

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You Cannot be the Most Important Person In Your Business

une Spotlight: Customer Domination

We all know that customer service is important to any small business. You rely on repeat customers and of course word of mouth, which is directly impacted by the experience your customers have with your business. Yet, as a business grows many business owners struggle to maintain the level of customer service without over-committing their schedule.   There comes a tipping point though. That point in time when your customers' needs outnumber the hours in the day you can devote to providing them with the best service possible. It's that point in time when you start to feel as if your customers are in control of what you do and when you do it. Throughout June we'll be looking at how to transition as your business grows so that customer service doesn't falter, but at the same time you don't feel as if your customers are in charge of your business...


You Cannot be the Most Important Person In Your Business

The moment you hire your first employee things should change. This is the moment you are no longer the most important person in your business. Take a moment to think about that. The moment you hired someone is really the moment you started letting go of your business. It's a lot like that moment your child first starts to walk. It's exciting, but at the same time you start to see all the things that could go wrong.


Most business owners manage to hold on to the control by giving employees just enough room to work, but without really allowing them to take ownership of their role. You might notice that there are customers that refuse to get answers from anyone but you, employees interrupt you for simple requests, or worse simply don't take action until you tell them what to do.  You probably know details about every single client call or interaction. You're accessible to clients and employees at any time or day. You'll notice that service starts to slip even though you're working harder than ever. It's exhausting being the most important person in your business.

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3 Keys to Cultivating

After the efforts you have made to define your harvest, plan for the harvest, and then planted the necessary seed to reap your defined harvest, you may think the work is over. No, this is the time to cultivate the growth of your expected harvest by labor and attention. In regards to growing plants, defines cultivate as: to promote or improve the growth of (a plant, crop, etc.) by labor and attention.


The question then is what are the keys to cultivating? Michael Gerber, in the best-selling book, The E-Myth Revisited, named this idea of cultivating the Business Development Process. Michael wrote that the Business Development Process is based on the foundation of the following “three distinct yet thoroughly integrated activities: Innovation, Quantification, and Orchestration.”

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Plant Your Plan

Week one of May you were challenged with the following, “So, decide what it is you want to harvest. It may be as simple as something like this: Over the next (enter time frame here) I expect to harvest (enter your goal here - number of sales, amount of revenue, new position(s) hired, another location opened, etc.).”


Week two the five steps to help you plan your harvest were introduced.  Now, after defining what it is you want to harvest and working the 5 steps to planning your harvest, let’s explore the planting stage.


The planting stage is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road.” This is where the defining and planning of your harvest meet and begin to happen in real time.

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Reap What You Sow

Last week you were challenged with the following, “So, decide what it is you want to harvest. It may be as simple as something like this: Over the next (enter time frame here) I expect to harvest (enter your goal here - number of sales, amount of revenue, new position(s) hired, another location opened, etc.).”

We went on to point out that in subsequent weeks, “we would look at the planning, planting, and cultivating needed to bring in the bumper harvest you expect.”
This week we will explore the planning.

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What Harvest Do You Expect

It is "that" time of the year here in the Heartland of the United States, that time where tractors are being fired up and planters are being filled as they are readied to enter the fields to plant seeds. This doesn't just "happen," this is a task that is born out of a plan that begins with deciding what harvest the farmers want to have at the end of the season. The same should be true of all business owners; they should begin by asking the question, "What harvest do I expect this season?"


By beginning with the end in mind, it helps the farmer decide what preparations need to be made, what seeds need to be acquired, and what needs to happen throughout the growing season to cultivate the planned harvest. It is not as simple as only choosing what seed to plant, tossing it into the field and waiting - that is a great strategy to feed birds but not to harvest a bumper crop. The same is true for your business - what do you expect your harvest to be at the end of your season? What do you need to do to plan for the expected harvest? What seed needs to be planted? What needs to be done throughout the season to cultivate your crop? These are all questions that need to be addressed to help ensure that you harvest what you expected.

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Branding Done Right: Intention Matters

Every business has a brand or going back to our quote and question for this month a personality.  For many small businesses that brand is not intentionally crafted.  It's left to happenstance, and as a result many small businesses are not ready for their Oscar moment or even for the next lead that somehow comes into contact with their business. 


This month we've covered a few branding basics:  Uniform, Delivery Process, and Online Presence, but the last remaining piece is intention.  We know that as a small business owner you are busy.  You're filling multiple roles on your organizational chart.  You're balancing long hours and frustrations while trying to carve out your personal life.   It's easy to ignore the importance of building a brand, because it's not the squeaky wheel.

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Branding Done Right: #3 Online Presence

A quick look through Big Mama's Pizza's website and social sites such as Facebook and Instagram shows that they understand the importance of their online presence matching their brand.  They have a great mix of their products, which we admit, look delicious, but they also make sure that their brand is shown.  It's not enough to have an online presence; you must have an online presence that makes it very clear who you are and what you do.



It would be very easy to have a pizza place that had an online presence and not be able to easily establish it from the competition.   That's not the case with Big Mama's and they achieve this in very basic ways.

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